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China 50, Us 25, Cronkite 22, America 12, Washington 11, New York 11, Walter Cronkite 8, Korea 8, Mr. Cronkite 8, United States 7, California 7, Texas 7, Chicago 7, U.s. 6, New York City 6, Normandy 5, Vietnam 5, Paris 5, Florida 5, Cbs 4,
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  CSPAN    U.S. Senate    News/Business.  

    September 5, 2012
    12:00 - 5:00pm EDT  

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history of american war reporting during world war ii following five journalists as they reported from the front lines of battle. walter crone kite, a.j., and hal boyle. ..
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the author is timothy gay, and i'm excited to be doing this book because i just finished reading andrea roomy's modern war. before we turn to the book let me mention some upcoming books at the national press club. june 14th, liz win said a canadian public a centrist and creator of the daily show will discuss her book is free or die. june 28th kirk lippold, commanding officer of the u.s.'s coal at the time of the attack will discuss his book front burner al qaeda's attack on the uss cool. on july 12th, his excellency, john mahama of, will discuss his book my first coup d'etat and other true stories from the lost decades of africa. [laughter] on july 24, thomas young a novelist and member of the national guard will discuss his novel the renegades, and bonds
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of timber 19, jeffrey toobin, legal analyst for cnn and the new yorker will discuss his book, the oath, the obama white house and the supreme court. if you would like to receive an e-mail about upcoming book craps, i believe there is a list of side, so please, sign the list and we will keep you in touch on upcoming the crops. all of our book raps benefit the journalist deutsch which is why we restrict outside books. copies of tim's a book may be purchased if you haven't done so already outside in the hallway. >> please do. [laughter] >> joining him on the panel this evening is a chip cronkite, a producer, editor and filmmaker and the son of the legendary reporter and long time anchorman walter cronkite. chip was a teenager in 1973 when his father received the first?o for the state award from the national press club, and it's good to have you back. don't wait so long before coming back again.
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next to the ship is david marnnis alves is the editor and author of two books and eight books including his most recent to be published book, barack obama the story. next to david is tim wendell rider and resident at johns hopkins and writer of his book summer of 68 this season when baseball and america changed forever. tonight's author, tim gay is a former press secretary for senator jay rockefeller and congressmen now senator tom carper. he spent more than two yearsp researching this book and had unparalleled access to the papers and families of the five journalists profiled in thep book. he's a graduate of georgetown and is currently senior vice president at grayling, aa washington government this is his third book. he's also the authorhic
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and then tim will sign copies of the book and i will turn the panel over to tim it does good to see so many old towns in the audience and appear on the table. just a wonderful thing. can't tell you how much it means to me. as you can tell, it's a little awkward here. i managed to tear up the means a few weeks ago. i wish i could tell you i got wounded while storming a nazi stronghold in normandy. but the truth this i tripped heading towards the poolside bar in search of a strawberry mardy
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-- margarita. [laughter] i know somewhere ernest hemingway just puked. sense of legal matters i cannot -- it was in a well-known family resort in florida. anyhow, it really what have made ernest hemingway barf host on christmas day, 1944, at the hotel in luxembourg city come a very liquid christmas - for the fellow correspondents. he wrote for the magazine. all the other correspondents following a little thing called the battle of the bulge were invited to the party that day and putting a 28-year-old united correspondent who happens to be chip's that. to be a fly on the fall at that
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gathering. but tiger tanks working on the countryside, poppa managed to score two bottles of booze despite the eggnog, and the whole thing went wild beyond midnight. the only one who did not to get pretty high-eyed and that is a direct quote from mr. cronkite, was cronkite. he had deadlines to meet that night, so could not get as pie-eyed as of devotee else. [laughter] >> that's what he told your mom and a letter. i am inclined to believe him. hemingway makes several appearances in "assignment tohell," none of them particularly flattering. as andy rooney said you should never meet your literary heroes because all of your illusions get shattered. i promise this is going to be a lot of fun. we will get a lot of back-and-forth stuff going here
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in just a bit. we have a great panel, and i just want you to know how honored i have been to have spent the last three years, and how lucky i am to get paid to write something i care about as passionately as world war ii journalism, and to follow these five great correspondence, this journalistic the end of brothers. walter cronkite and an amazing guy. we are fortunate to have chip with us tonight he's lucky to be here at all. his old man flew a mission over botts etd cannot see germany, trapped u-boats that flew at such low altitudes. he was the only american correspondent to fly the bomber over d-day. on august 16th, 1944, she was sitting in essey 47 on a runway
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in britain set to become only one of two correspondence to witness what had been the incredible dramatic parachute drop to liberate paris. but at the last second, eisenhower cancel the the mission because the first and third army were advancing across northern france so rapidly. one month later cronkite got to fulfill his wish. he went to the market garden and a glider, carrying the top command of the 101st come including general anthony mcauliffe, who couple months later would become famous for saying nuts to the germans when they demanded. so that is just a brief snapshot of cronkite. homer bigart, cronkite's friend, was like cronkite, trained by the eighth army air force to fly
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on combat missions. like cronkite, he covered the 300 bombing group and after that, he moved to the mediterranean theater homer bigart went on to commandos in insidious commando raids behind enemy lines, one in sicily, one in the south of france. the first is the celebrated incident in the patent i'm sure you are familiar with where george c. scott lectures his trust scott and says courage, always courage, quote king frederick the great. it's a very controversy a moment in world war ii history. the reason patent wanted the commando raid to move forward is that he had reporters ready to go, and he didn't want to be embarrassed. that's why there was the great war with space. he later covered the great push
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up the boot of italy. he was on the beachhead for two months and then covered the liberation of rome. andy rooney of stars and stripes earned the metal for going on five combat raids over the rink. he earned a bronze star that he never told anybody about for his courageous coverage and normandie after d-day where he stood shoulder to shoulder with these other guys. i write about how they were all covering the first army and that amazing battle. he's also -- he was among the first in to paris. sadly he didn't get his story out because excavating circumstances. but he was the first correspondent on the scene when we captured the bridge and a great bridge over the line and a and he stayed there for two weeks until the bridge fell. he was also among the first
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american correspondents to visit the camp. just an amazing world war ii career just 23, 24-years-old. he fled the storm troopers across france in 1940. he was a great francophile and got to cover the liberation of his beloved paris, and he also earlier in the war had covered north africa, just brilliant. the associated press, cronkite's great rival anniversary, he probably wrote more words on the european theater of conflict than any reporter. he was at the operation for literally its first day and stayed on the european theater all the way through.
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was the first american newspaperman on the scene when the awful massacre of the arm the g.i. discovered it. just an amazing series of guys come and i say that they were a journalistic band of brothers. and i am barely scratching the surface. i am waiting on hundreds of stirring moments. it takes a village to write a book like this. and i am indebted to the guys at this table that held made every turn. tim writes beautifully on everything especially baseball. his stuff is very much in the great show tashi tradition. tim is a great teller of tales. he won a pulitzer in 44 for his brilliant coverage of italy and post normandy. homer bigart, the great paul of
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"the new york times" editor later wrote for "the new york times" and betsy was his great friend and protege told me that whenever homer bigart was introduced as a pulitzer winner, she would say to times. [laughter] a two-time pulitzer winner. spoofing the pretentiousness of reminding people that yeah, he had one journalism's most prestigious award twice, and we are honored that one of the very few other people and our then history of our journalism is with us tonight. david. it used to be -- let me say this, it seems to me that david's stuff, his newspaper stuff, very few people can write with the breath and the death of his newspaper stuff he can't. and in longer form stuff, magazine pieces, books, very few
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writers can write with this kind of. the most frightening words in american used to be michael moore is in the lobby. [laughter] now its maraniss, sir, is interviewing or ex-girlfriend. [laughter] >> yeah. [laughter] >> now to chip. it's not easy being the child of a famous person especially when your real that is for the else's surrogate dad. he didn't know me when the process started three years ago. i called him just a few weeks after his dad died, which could not have been an easy time for him, could not have been more helpful, more gracious, a better gentleman. the family archives dugout a bunch of stuff that nobody had seen before. went through his dad's personal papers, dug up a bunch of stuff.
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and after his dad's long lost wartime correspondence were discovered, chip made absolutely sure that i had full access to everything. i'm delighted that chip's son, walter for, that's working at cbs, with help from his former hamilton college professor, will be bringing out a book, the definitive wartime letters of walter cronkite. will be out in about a year or so it couldn't be more pleased. in fact, i defy anyone to read the letter that walter cronkite wrote to his wife, betsy, on christmas eve, 1943, and not tear up. chip's sister kathy and i were working on it in a restaurant in boston when we both started will bring the that is okay because he was blubbering, too. early on, chip and i were exchanging e-mail notes over some of the classic cbs news
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videos that his dad had been a part of. these historical recreation firms. this one happened to be a dramatically creation of the events of december 7th, 1941. nathan, could you --? >> located in the cbs newsroom here in new york. the regularly scheduled news program is now on the air and it's a few seconds passed to:30 p.m.. >> would get this thing. that is the guy that used to be on all i dream of jeannie. [laughter] so, i immediately e-mail chip and as soon as i hit send, i regretted it. he is going to think i am in no
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cultured believe and i just shot my credibility, and the program wasn't even on cbs. [laughter] so, i was sitting there really upset with myself and two seconds later my computer beat. it was chip. in the red "the actor's name was haydon rourke terrie i was thrilled to deliver a script to him once. we loved "i dream of jeannie." simpatico. having bonded, we were friends for life. look, there are dozens, hundreds of things that we can explore here by boiled it down to three coming and especially how those three things affected the two great correspondence, great friends who in fact stayed inseparable friends for the rest of their lives.
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walter cronkite and homer bigart. as i mentioned, both provincial to read the 300 group which they did brilliantly month after month in the early 1943. the first thing is how the five correspondents rose to the challenge despite being what behind the ears. there was nothing about their background to suggest that they could cover a global conflict. not to put a fine point on that but we are talking about boyle and cronkite and bigart. he was a fuss and was dying when he worked. baliles specializes in covering street crime. there was very little about their background to suggest they were ready for this kind of challenge. let me read a quick rest riff. this is from chapter 3.
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bigart, too, had lived a provoking a existence. the future "new york times" editor's portrait of the early war bigart as a journeyman with no language, no for an experience, no more knowledge of the war war foreign affairs than he could glean from the headlines inaccurately described the other three as well. just as world war ii brought out the best general eisenhower and bradley, it stirred something within cronkite, rooney and bigart that they might not have known they had. the second theme i would like to kick around tonight is the physical and mental courage it took for these guys to cover dead and wounded soldiers day after day. there are no shortages of incredibly herring and heart rendering moments in the book and we will get into a few of them. the third is the legacy that they left to all the fuss and to post were journalism.
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i don't know if you saw robert mcneil's review of my book in the sunday post, but i was so honored that a journalist of his stature would have reviewed it. but he challenged my premise that the end of the book that these guys came back home after the war and created the greatest era of press, independence and integrity in american history. and we've got a very distinguished panel and a lot of great people in the audience to kick them around. so, with that, a second ago we were laughing about the historical recreations stuff in the 50's and chip's dad was such an instrumental part of. instead of me is dreading it to those of you and the younger generation who were not around, nathan, could we run the clip?
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>> ileana zealous japan followed. the damage battle ships, the nevada, west virginia, maryland, california, pennsylvania repaired and performed as the war road on. pearl harbor and the best parts began the long hard her luck road to victory through the guadalcanal, hiroshima, okinawa, the philippines, making headway until that is on the deck of the battleship tokyo harbor with the surrender of the japanese. equally hard the road, equally heroic the men that fought on the hot sands of africa, on the beaches of normandy. along are the descendants of men who wonder washington fought the counterparts for freedom and equality. a day like all days eliminates our time and you were there. [laughter] >> clich show of hands, who misses that guy?
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here is our first kind of question. what is it that we miss about that guy? i'm sorry, what is it that we miss about mr. cronkite and this generation of journalists? why does it stir the soul to have stuff like that. i'm going to open it up to you guys. >> well, i should recuse myself. [laughter] i should recuse myself because i was there. the question is meant to be historical, not personal. and i can always -- i'm an optimist, and i think there are so many journalists today that there are plenty like them. that's my counter argument.
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>> i wish that were true. >> my reaction is not to the question that i was about 12-years-old when the shows were running, and i remember them vividly. but the thought that struck me is there may be 12 to 14 years after world war ii, but for oldo or too seemed agent, just completely out of the realm ofo our baby boomers come and get? good at all for 14 years from now and where are you? in the beginning of the clinton administration that seems like only yesterday, literally, so just the difference of that era is changing from after world war ii so dramatically that it seems like it was from a different time and place completely. i think that is part of the
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romance of that. >> after the korean war you think washed people's memories of the heroic? >> was the forgotten war. >> forgotten immediately? >> i'm sure it wasn't at the moment. another thing as you mentioned, chip, is probably -- there might be journalists like that now there is such an overwhelming amount of information and misinformation and different forms of platforms of information to it was so simple than that they gave it much more power. >> i think that these guys certainly were under deadline to be amazing dead lines and such, but i think there were more pauses the right for the ball game for the internet and for.
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but i love about that voice even today is that is certainly has the authority but it also has that pause or that look back that empathy and compassion to and that is something that is very difficult to find these days simply because they were running faster on these treadmills and it's a little bit more difficult. >> going back to the first theme that asks for these guys prepared. i think the duty of that is that they sort of completely are emblematic of the g.i.. these were drafted guys like professional soldiers, and they were up for the tasks, so the fact that the press had to go through the same thing echoes that. >> when i see cronkite, i see somebody that's held together. he's an adhesive in so many
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anchors, television personalities, call them what you will. they are abrasive. it is all polarizing now, it seems to me that he represented the absolute best in trying to pull things together. i think that's why we have such nostalgia. >> i even wonder if we are allowed to pull things together these days. i think the ones that tend to, i don't know, get the bigger shows committed the bigger ratings, but never come are the most polarizing and therefore, you know, simply catering to whatever audience it may be. >> the only thing that strikes me is if it's true that somewhere at 40% of graduating american high school seniors believe we fought russia in world war ii, then maybe it's time to recycle. >> it's about some teachers. >> like a little black and white, but there's got to be something we can do for each cade. sestak i don't think human nature changes, i think the
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culture changes are around it, so there were many people that had problems with fdr. we had mccormick. so what would those sort of people be like if they had the power of the technology today, and then how would it be split? >> continuing the same theme, if he would show that still picture which is indecipherable but i will explain it in just a second. there it is. that is one of my all-time favorite photographs. she does that out of his old man's personal papers. how big was it? >> i believe it was 1x2. [laughter] which is why it is so blurry to figure out what it is to read
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that is the great walter cronkite and the great homer bigart standing in front of the bear it get 303rd group. if you didn't know better, wouldn't you square that was peter graves and walter olberman? [laughter] that's the good guys, that's how the good guys lived. anyhow, i know from my research and with the correspondence, that photograph was taken on february 19th, 1943. exactly one week before the "assignment to hell." these guys had been trained by the mighty u.s. air force on combat raids. they were right in the middle of the training in the photograph was taken. they were supposed to be covering that mission. but because of bad weather the mission had been scrubbed, so
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they had a couple of bikes, pedaled around the countryside and is visited the tavern not once but twice. i don't know how many pitchers of beer went down for the photograph was taken. you can see mr. cronkite holding up the sign unbeknownst to homer, the whole idea was to supply is -- surprise him with a sign that read "keep off the grass." [laughter] there was no grass to keep all fluff. this was an error drone bass and was absolute muck. it's amazing to think that on february 19th, 1943, they were both correspondent and had done little to distinguish themselves in the wartime correspondence. all of that changes when they went on an amazing run. we had been bombing for the third reich since july of 42.
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but we can only bombed germany three times at that point. three months after pearl harbor and the only real action to speak at in the theater are the is amazing in the brave, voice. yet it's taken all this time to get the manpower, the material. everything required to mount a meaningful bombing campaign against hitler. that day on february 26, 1943 the ranking of 69 this they call themselves. they also call themselves the fly and typewriters and after a few beers the legion of doom. laughter of the legion of the doomed to gough and the series of the b-17 and the be 24 there
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are 70 planes or so on the attack formation. the original object if was brennan, the fighter factory in brennan. but they got over germany that day and was all cloud, so they ended up attacking hitler's u-boats on the north sea. it was the second time the u.s. bombers had attacked. and the u.s. attacked during the day they believed in nighttime bombing with a called area bombing. we believe in daylight bombing. debeaked do the quote strategic bombing, precision bombing. this is very in love early in the war now there are no fighter escorts. after 100 miles distant fires returned to the races and they would fly completely exposed over the north sea absolutely remarkable stuff. so the 159 to the whole idea behind the 69th is they were
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going to go on constant missions. let me give you a little flavor of what they're trading was light. also we will give you some sense of how brilliant a writer he was. we didn't realize until the top of the eighth and the rooney recall of the right thing that we have to attend a gunnery school for a week we were going to go on the bomber and battle and we were told we better know how to shoot a gun in case we got in trouble. the entourage was instructed an oxygen maintenance. the aircraft identification and ditching out which meant abandoning the plan by parachute he explained to the readers of the herald tribune on tebeau r-ga if it was during the lt. alex hoeven's lecture that some of us felt like popping the next train back to the station.
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the lieutenant is a pleasant lad from mississippi, but his discourse was a bit grim. what would happen, the reporter asked, if they ditched into the north sea and the plane swept down to investigate. in that event, he replied, tell them that you are waiting for the raf and wave them out. hogan wasn't alone. other trading traders gave equally unsettling council. one officer wrote painted an unforgettable picture of what might happen to our fingers if we took off our gloves at 30,000 feet. another urged them to constantly on and swallow to relieve pressure on the air drones. if it offends anybody i apologize. [laughter] six flatulence could be painful and hazardous he also prescribed
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avoiding gas foods such as beans, chips and red cabbage, and to treat beer like the plague. we are in england, for god sakes, the reporters protested. what else are we supposed to eat and drink? [laughter] there are the two aircraft recognition was a native named bernard denney hall. the raf surgeon was an expert teacher having flown some four dozen combat missions, a fourth of them over germany. but his accent was baffling at first, he wrote. he kept talking about the position until some of us began drawing out lines of the spherical dutch cheese with wings. later he is alleged that he was referring to the aircraft approaching. cronkite remembered stirring if barely intelligible hurricane
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fighter. this year the raf said while displaying the silhouette on the ceiling, is a mighty nice aircraft. it helped the troops when he had them on the run in the desert. it protected them getting out of greece, and was a big help of getting out of norway. hurricane as a matter of fact was essential in all of our defeats. [laughter] anyhow, they get back from one piece in this replete is the only 1i hit either a german fighter is rooney's chip. cronkite survives, bigart survives an old soldier and they get back by design at harrison salisbury and the top public relations officer of the air
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force they get some very bad news. the post had been an original fraternity member of the right of 69 of his the 24 had been shot down. the scene that parachutes come out of the be 24, and sadly post was not one of them and thus ended a very abruptly the riding of 69. there had been big plans for them to go on constant missions but as soon as people realized just how perilous it was, that was all canceled. now, rooney ended up going on for more missions over the third reich earning his mettle. cronkite went on an incredible mission at the 26 were altitude in february of 1944, five months before d-day. cronkite went on and attacked
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and you know what he was attacking clacks the rocket launch sites. but he gets home and gets back to england and he cannot say in his article that was the the one rocket launch. he has to use euphemisms about the super weapon and that sort of thing. but his dad got into some hot water for that mission and produced a two month old saying you told me i could go on this trip. [laughter] for >> they were not legally supposed to have weapons training or they? >> no, they sure were not. >> they wouldn't do that today. >> it's fascinating. his dad hammered away at a 50 caliber on the plastic nose of his b-17. he was the waist down at his
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b-17. interestingly, the stars and stripes was a regular army that chose not to use the machine gun. cronkite said it was impossible to try to keep track of the german fighters. the bombers were going up the north sea at 300 miles per hour they are coming about 500 miles per hour. there would be a tiny speck on the horizon of a sudden shooting past them and here is cronkite who's never really shot one of these things before except for a couple trying to hammer away. i want you to think about this. all of the other b-s were in the formation. he was tormented the rest of h life, worried t he had shot down the post. it would have been impossible close to the formation but he was tormented by all of that. >> and they all had to write? how many of them wrote across the same day when they got back?
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>> right. the amazing story his dad had been up for about two days and then up writing what became the famous assignment at the moment that completely transformed his reputation was then interesting that might come february 27, the day after it is composing the story, cbs calls coming and a guy named john daly, remember, you've got to be will before this, what did he host clucks anybody remember clacks >> [inaudible] >> there you go. there you go. they used to wear a black tie. he was one of the guys in london and interviewed chip's data that might to get his impression. was the first time your father ever appeared on cbs.
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>> so, just looking at these guys and the specter, knowing what they meant to the future of journalism, what do you think about bigart and cronkite together at that point in their lives? >> he was a figure of my childhood >> over the voice of god or somewhere in between. [laughter] >> and complete authority and trust worthiness. because i am a writer and i didn't know about cronkite's writing became one of my heroes and most journalists use this r.
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dee because of the clarity of its sensitivity in the sense of humor everything about it seemed absolutely perfect. i think the voice of god in the others i could have. >> that is different. >> what strikes me often with these guys, too, is the fact that together in some spirt we're talking about how green they were in hell inexperienced the point that in a lot of ways they mirrored the servicemen and the military guys over there they grew up in a hurry and in large part because the company kept to emulate or somebody sort of pushes you along that maybe
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you are even the computer are a lot of critics to you and these guys that is one of the things i like about this book that tim has done is that it's taken. the synergy and the can shut the tree all of them in part because of the company did have to the journalists beginning with andy rooney who during the war because bigart always asked despite his debilitating always asked the obvious question that nobody else would asked. explain that again. i'm sorry, expletive one more time, please. and it seems to me that often that is the persistence that is missing in today's journalism.
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i think that larry is giving me the high side. can we skip ahead to the last couple things here? thanks to chip we were able to pull out of cbs news a copy of d-day plus 20 which is the classic 1964 cbs news documentary that mr. cronkite did with the great dwight david eisenhower, and if we could, we can show the quick quips. you may want to stand up to see this because it's a wonderful moment to be a very early on in the shooting, this happened. >> welcome you can see from back here this is where the battle took place and was a natural thing to do because you knew that you could if necessary. the there were these four avenues and that is what we are trying to get through. there are some courses of battle time that develop fine, but this
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first day was tough. here comes a little one. i hear something. how do you do? [inaudible] i must say this has been the most interesting thing. ♪ ♪ >> thanks. that's why we like to ike.
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i think we are kind of running out of time. so nathan, if it's okay if we could skip ahead to the final frame is important we close on this note. my book begins in the most sacred place in the world, the normandy cemeteries above omaha beach, and this wonderful let gentry concludes in the same secret place with great iconic figures. >> 86 battalion, 90 at division arizona. the 29th division. the 82nd airborne of kentucky. there are some 9,000 right here.
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i guess most of the casualties are looking at the omaha beach. >> [inaudible] this completes all of the d-day casualties and goes back into the normandy fighting. >> that's been the cemetery they were gathering the monuments as far down.
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of course this is just one of the cemetery's that stretched from here and around the world really. d-day is a very special meaning for me. i'm not referring relate to the anxiety of the day. the anxiety that took part of the sending and the invasion where you knew that many hundreds of boys were going to give their lives or remain. but so often back to this day. on d-day my own son graduated from west point, and after his training he came over the 71st division, but that was sometime
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after. on the day that he was graduating he came here with our other allies to the speeches not to mean anything for ourselves, not to fulfil in the envisions america have for conquest but just to preserve freedom. many thousands have died for ideals such such as these. in the 20th century for the second time along with the rest, americans had come across the ocean to defend those same values. my own son had a very full life.
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he's the father of four lovely children, very precious, but these young boys [inaudible] de have families that need them but they never knew the great experiences of going to life. i hope they will never again have to see such things as these i think and hope and pray that but these people gave us a chance so that we could do better than we have before.
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so every time i come back to the beaches or in the day when i think about 20 years ago i say once more we must find some way to work towards peace and we need to gain internal peace in this world. >> welcome and now you see why i was honored to write this book and why i'm honored that all of you are going to be part of this discussion. we are happy to answer any questions that you might have. yes, sir. >> [inaudible] at the time of combat pools of the why is he over there and what is his cause?
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what motivates him and makes him wish to get home alive? >> there are two things brought out beautifully in all of the great books he wrote it was about the company camaraderie, looking out for your friend. agreed statements about idealism and all the rest didn't work when it came to that actual combat on the ground and was a great desire to get home. yes, sir. >> he told me once i'm not a brave man or military man i just didn't want to make excuses the rest of my life. it's been a good didn't get the chance to read one of my favorite quotes is the great admiration he had which i think
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leader translated into great admiration for astronauts but at one point in 43 nearly 44 the chances of getting back in the combat missions for no better than one of six or seven could imagine that. imagine having to cover the kids. you see them at breakfast. they would fly off at least 10%, maybe 20% within come home. some of more catastrophic than that. and let me say that i am not the only person that closed their eyes in this room when politicians say they want a government as good as the people of the united states or how inspired they are by the people of the united states, because i think that we have all seen people and may be blessed that walter cronkite and all the rest. they saw americans at their absolute best. yes, ma'am. of curious and these
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stories were quite extraordinary. has there been a similar book on reporters like bob who cover the pacific like you have on this story? >> knollwood there is a diet that i know that is thinking about doing the book. [laughter] will you buy it if i do it? >> it's a fascinating story in itself. >> the pacific war i think too often gets overlooked especially the journalism and all the rest were phenomenal reporters covering the pacific i still love homer. how did you get into doing at. tell us a little bit of the
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book. >> my buddies at georgetown university, for history buffs and world war ii devotees when mr. cronkite passed away i was struck by two things. one is instead of the usual jd e-mails that we exchange when people leave us it is pure reference that was the death of the response. then i was struck when few of the ovaries mentioned world war ii, it was like an afterthought. thames said a second ago a baby boomer exception everything was through the prism of early issues that we associate mr. cronkite with in the 60's and 70's. vietnam and the kennedy assassination. those things are important. don't get me wrong but if mr. cronkite were with us, he would say that world war ii really defined him. i will defer you
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>> a few of us went to vietnam, and they asked why. but again, i don't remember who was asking why in korea. but if the general took over from westmoreland was an associate from the battle of the bulge abrams with whom he had dinner before he left on a fact-finding into frame february february 1968. >> right after the tet offensive to check it out for himself he
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had dinner with his old buddy who apparently is saying the same thing that might add insult saying a few days later i was all fouled up and there is no good way out. other people are saying it, but because it was so little other internet , he was left with the responsibility of my dad to say out loud that this war didn't seem justified anymore, which wasn't radical so much as common sense a call. >> it is enormous movement. >> that is before, right? >> that is exactly correct. the great story that lbj watched
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mr. cronkite deliver that light and turn the television off and turn to his aides and said if i've lost cronkite i've lost america. very quickly he was in korea and he won another pulitzer in korea in partnership with the great marguerite. she was every bit as tough and homer was no misogynist, but marguerite would get grief and homer would return it as big as you got it and when the word came down, forgive me, when the word came down ms. higgins was expecting he said really who is the mother? [laughter] when the baby came into being, she had asked homer had eaten it, and his protege once worked at the courage to say which of
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the stories is true and he said yes. [laughter] any other questions? yes, ma'am. >> how has this affected these experiences i've always wondered going through these things my uncle was in both japan and he never talked about it and i never asked questions. malae wish i had, but he was another one of these gentlemen of the same age. spirit he was in europe as well as the pacific. but everybody has their own war presumably. i've never been a combatant either i guess it is, and not to bring the blood and guts story home to instead bring the
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funnier story is home to the dinner table. so, i don't know. >> yes, sir. >> [inaudible] [laughter] >> lbj's said that if cronkite had lost america and this understanding was not pursuing something valuable i'm just wondering especially if chip could answer this, was the value of world war ii in your father's mind one of the things that led him to see that may be thinking this war, world war ii should have been the last, and when we look at vietnam and korea, the
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war can't measure up. .. >> out of balance and these folks who were toll to go over
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this and stay, or if they get to come back, they are told to go right bang. it's a -- it's not the question, but it's another question. >> well, i'd like to ask a question of all of you going back to what i mentioned a few minutes ago about mr. mcneill suggested i exaggerated a few that the guys came back from the war and created something that had never really been before. they made journalism an honorable profession, made it an absolutely essential part of american democracy which, in many ways, had not been -- , and they created the greatest era of presence, independent integrity and history. i'd like to throw that out and get people's reactions. yes, ma'am? >> my dad trained the 26 and 24
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pilots and world war ii flying korea, 94 missions over korea, first navigator in. he told me, first of all, great admiration for cronkite because out there with the guys in the no gravity things corping somersaults, and they thought that was something. i asked my did, did you think about the people on the ground when he was dropping bombs over korea, and he says, you don't think about that. you just think about missions, and as soon as they bombedded the bridges, they would be rebuilt in a very fast turn around time, but he also said the press were helpful in keeping numbers straight because oftentimes the commander officer, one counts four, another counts six, looking at the same piece of turf, but it was the journalists who were the
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arbiter on what the numbers might be. they kept the exaggerations to a minimum. i would also like to see more books about korea because for an undeclared war, that was a hell of a fight. >> briefly, my dad and the other guys all pointed out that although they went up in two or three missions, they chose whether to go up or not. your job went up 96 more times than that. >> [inaudible] they often didn't talk about -- they couldn't. kept secrets then because they had to. >> i wonder if your question about whether the total heroic world, the second world war, and its consequence, which was this equally heroic journalism that cam about thereafter is the same gee about whether the heroic, total war that was the
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revolutionary war, and the heroic statesmanship in politics that came afterwards. isn't it sort of the same question that heroic times has an educate on us as individuals and society and there's nothing else like it? we have not had anything like it and we don't have that these days. >> a perspective point, john. anyone else care to comment on it. >> it was revolutionary for the odds against you and the support we got from friends and how we almost lost. >> yeah, as i say -- yeah? >> not a golden age of journalism though. [laughter] >> well, come on. [laughter] >> i think it did combat journalism that lasted through vietnam and then changed again
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because of the repression of government essentially. >> yeah, it's a fascinating issue here. >> they enlisted them on what to write on stars and stripes, but he came down on them hard saying let them write that they wanted to write. >> eisenhower had secret cheer leading from stars and stripes. he told them to cut it out and he wanted real journalism. yes, kim? >> the baby boom generation grew up with world war ii movies, and they viewed the gis and airman at the time and the navy. in your research and experience
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with your dad, what did you learn about how the correspondence felt that the gi's and soldiers and airmen felted -- felt about them in their role? >> well, i think like your seat mate's dad, they appreciated, and like marshall and ike, they appreciated having the story told. they appreciated having their own stories told and the fact checking and they -- i've heard from vietnam vets they appreciated the asking why. two big questions. >> [inaudible] >> one of the things the gis admired about the five correspondents and the likes is they were with them in the trenches, taking the same risks they were. not every day or to the extreme, but they were there.
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the reason ernie pile became wildly popular at the beginning of the war is press guys felt comfortable around him, opened up to him, and he began writing wonderful profiles. so it hal. boyle called himself the poor map's pile saying i write for the people who read -- i -- i'm screwing this up. i write for the people who read ernie pile over the shoulder of people reading ernie. man, did i screw that up. [laughter] handicapp because ap insisted on calling him harold d. boyle in the byline. ernie pile sounds like you want to have a beer with, but howard boyle sounds like an accounting professor from freshman year.
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[laughter] >> we didn't have the same kind of notoriety, i think. what was the difference, and david may be able to comment on this, between the experience in iraq and the experience of the correspondents in world war ii? >> david, do you want to -- >> well, i think what the difference is aside from the technological differences, there's sort of a cultural difference built up over those 50 years of the relationship between the press and the military and so i just don't think -- you know, as i said in the beginning, the fact that most of the soldiers in world wd war ii were just thrown in, you know, enlistees and draftees as well as the writers, there was a much closer parallel between them, and the press and the
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military now are unfortunately two separate cultures, and so there's not the same -- people can overcome it. good journalists can do it, and they can also write the truth, but there's more obstacles to overcome. >> they were embedded in one unit. they were not allowed to -- >> yeah. they had one narrow per speck tie and some knew how to do that and others got lost in it and became the cheerleaders thattize p -- eisenhower didn't want. >> in italy, things went sideways quickly and it was a bloody slog that had the feel of world war i trench war field. they were there every day, and both, especially biggard, having poignant reporting. he got crosswise with mark clark who does not fair well in my book to put it charitably, but
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covering the miserable stalemate that took place in both places. you know, they printed the truth. they had censors and the rest, but you have to give them credit. larry -- >> we actually have gone over time. one more question. >> okay. janet, make it brief, will you? [laughter] >> nowadays we have lots of film, tweets, and things that i'm too old to do, but we don't have letters the way we used to. >> yeah. >> is that going to make a difference in the future? >> absolutely. [laughter] >> yeah. >> sure. [laughter] >> and every his tore yap is worried about -- historian is worried about that. >> it's a little scary. think if he was tweeting and reduced to 140 characters, you know, when he wrote a letter on
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the airplane as he was scheduled to fly into paris, to parachute into paris for the first allied air bourn. he went on for two and a half pages of sweet nothings because he didn't think he'd see her guys, thank you so much. >> thank you. [applause]
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>> because the idea of reform and opening was not unique to xiapoping, and who criticizedded his successor, who turned out
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not to be really a great strong leader was in favor of a lot of the reforms. a lot of the senior officials were in favor of a lot of the reforms. to some extent, he had a long time perspective, and whether "visionary" is the right word, but when he thought about honk hong kong, he said for 50 years they can keep the present system. if you ask about what he wants to do for 50 years in the country, that's hardly a serious question. no american leader, four years a long term. [laughter] to think to the end of the terms of the next election and so i think he did have a long term perspective. at the same time, he was experimental, and he didn't have fixed notions, and he was used the expression cross the river by groping for stones. again, that term was somehow attributed to deng, but it was
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not unique to him. he didn't invent the term. he used the terms. he used the ideas. he was a manager who put it all together and provided the direction and the firm hand that made it all happen. >> watch the entire interview with ezra vogel and his biography on xiapoping and his trance formation of china here on c-span2. >> i know you're reading the book about the next century. what about america's role in the world over the nec 100 years? >> i hope some of the things george predicted come true, others i don't think will, but i do believe that america as a place where the con cement of freedom with individual freedom, political preach, economic freedom where there was born and
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nurturedded changed the world from the very beginning of those that inspired documents, the declaration of independence and the constitution, and over the coming century, america will continue to play a leading role on the world stage by virtue of the commitment by the exceptional principles. >> for more information on this and summer reading lists, visit booktv.org. >> next on booktv, amy reading presents a history of the con in the united states and specifically recounts the game that left texas rancher jay frank norfleet penniless in 1919, but hungry for revenge. this is 45 minutes. [applause] >> hello, thank you so much for coming. first, let's talk about the big con before i dive in from reading from the book. you need to know a little bit about what happened to the main character, jay frank, before we get to the section i'm going to
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read. it's december 1919, james is is a texan rancher, 54 years old, prime of his life, made a lot of money for himself, and he made that money by kneeling to the principles that include doing business with a handshake with other honest, upright people. you can see where this is going. he comes to dallas for a land deal from the teaks panhandle where he's from, and very quickly, he's ensnared by a team of swindlers, five men, and they are headed by the ring leader, joseph, and they've done research on him, and they understand who he is and how to take him, and over a series of almost two weeks, they very gradually ensnare him in what we now know as the big con, a particular structure of
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swindling that is a little bit too long to describe here, but ifou saw "the sting," you know what i'm talking about. it's a play with sets and actors, costumes, and extras, and it basically boiled down to joseph convinced norfleet he was placing money on a stock exchange using insider tips to he couldn't possibly go wrong, and it was worth his while to put the money behind this absolutely sure thing, and the stock market was rigged against him, and the whole thing was a set. this all happens in the first chapter of the book that ends with him realizing he was taken for everything he's worth plus a bunch more. the swindlers actually play the con on him twice because he was so invested in the story that he went home and got more money and played the con again after he
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had been swindled. he was $45,000 poorer at the end of two weeks, and he was absolutely stone broke. the end of the con, the last act in the play, calls for the mark to go home silent and never say what happened to him because his reputation could not survive sufficient e mortification, but they think he's been participating in something shady or underhanded, and if he tries to prosecute the swindlers, he, himself b would be open to prosecution. the swindlers buy the silence. he was no ordinary mark, and he made the extraordinary decision to put the life on hold, turn the ranch over to his wife, and spend the next, what turned out to be four years, tracking down the five men that swindled him. he had no credentials to do this
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or qualifications. he was not a detective, knew nothing about where to find these guys, but he was so outraged and principles so violated that it made sense for him to do that. i'm going to read from the fourth chapter, which is kind of where his unique part of the story picks up, where the part where he deviates from the conman's script and decides to make the decision and what happens really begins. chapter four, humbug. when he asked himself where in the whole blessed country to begin looking for five men skilled in the arts of subterfuge, the image of a red notebook floated up before his mind's eye. he had not noted it before, but now that he thought about it, he remembered it as the address book. he turned it around in the head, put it down on the imagined hotel bed where he first saw it, and then on impulse, picked it up, and opened it. the trick worked.
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inside he saw a long list of names written in different hands and one in particular stuck out to him, a mr. s. n kathy from corpus christi. he knew him well, hired a relative on the ranch 30 # years earlier, and though the name didn't stir anything in his when he first encountered it, he sundayenly realized its significance. kathy, now a land owner like himself, and the name was surely in the rebook because he was on the the sucker list. a flood recently devastated corpus christi, and norfleet could imagine fuery persuading him to liquidate his real estate in pursuit of more. the trip was to corpus christi to see if he encountered the gang of five. he was away to california on a prospecting trip. it was eliza, his wife, who gave the next lead as they sat talking over the case while
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norfleet cleaned the rifle, she, when one of the five swindlers visited the ranch to survey it for the mythical green immigration land company, he had spoken learnedly and amusedly of the travels all around the country everywhere except the state of california. all mention of which was conspicuously absent in the conversation. could it be, she wondered, because that's where the gang hangs out? that's right, you hit it. they never said a word about the golden state. that's why. he leapedded from the chair. any dialogue from the book is not invented, but quoted. these are his words and what he said. his mind made all of the connections. it all comes to me now. see, they made a get away from here the minute they got my money, and gathered up kathy and the they headed straight for
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sunny cow. he wasted in time. eliza helped him pack, and in two hours issue on the way to california. this very lead shot him across the plains and deserts to san bernardino. why san bernardino? well, because he had to get off the train somewhere, and he decided to work the state from the bottom up. norfleet offered no other explanation for charging forth as if this one sufficed. it was dusk when he arrived, and decorations around the town reminded him it was christmas eve. the holiday fled his mind. as he imagined the families inside, the neighbor, and wondering what his family was doing back at the ranch, he experienced the first, and really the only moment of doubt in his quest. he longed to get back on the train and return home before he exposed himself as a fool. as he walkedded, the sites began to meld with the thoughts
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looping through his mind and caught himself imagining the men squeezing down chimneys, scooping up presentings, and fleeing how they came. he laughed and realized he was obsessed and turned in for the night. on christmas morning, lonely and sheepish, but still resolute, he went to the sheriff's office and met walter shay. he spilled the story to the sheriff sparing no details of his own gullibility and describing his enemies as precisely as he knew how. shay let him get all the way to the end of the speech before replying, the sheriff's office doesn't make a general practice of giving every stranger in top a christmas present, but i may have one for you. the words took a bit to register. the sheriff beckenned him to the cell, and there, in adjoining cases sat two front secretaries of the dallas and ft.worth stock
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exchanges. he broke out in a sweat and a ting l up the spine. his first absurd impulse was to wish the enemies a merry christmas. after all, most of the time he knew them, they had been his esteemed colleagues, well-dressed executives who treated him with deference and respect. he marveled at hour they changed and how little they resembled themselves. ward turned to him and smeared like a common thief, so you found us, you damned on fox. he said, don't identify us, he shouted. have pity on us, for god's sakes, don't identify us. keeping the face impassive, he turned and followed the sheriff back to the office without a word. as soon as they were out of earshot, he grilled for the details of the arrest. shay told him an astonishing and nearly up believable story that
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a texan by the name of kathy of here is with stockbrokers and about to close a deal when he read of the swindle. he knew he was in the hands of the same men, and he dashed from the hotel room he was sharing with them and accosted the first police officer in the street. alas, the crew spotted him talking to the officer. they fled the hotel. two disappeared via the fire escape, but two were intercepted at the train station taking the chance of detaining them long enough to wire sheriff sterling clerk and got an instant reply to hold them under the warrant filed. in the suitcase, there was precisely the same country -- credentials and documents. only fuery, now by the name of
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peck, changed his alias. this did not dampen his fervor for the other three. they were beginning to extradite the three the texas, he scoured southern california for leads. he searched the tfn and telegraph records in the san bernardino hotels, but there was no trace of mr. peck. he visited surrounding cities and towns, and in los angeles, had a minor score looking in the rogue galleries of photographs identifying a picture and learned his real anytime for the first time, and while in the big city, he thought he'd try his hand at a disguise leaving the suitcase at the sheriff's office and sought out a beautician to wrestle with the mustache, and then later, a clean shaven businessman in a neat gray suit walked into the sheriff's office and asked for the suitcase. hey, how do you get these way, they belong to a cowman. norfleet beamed in happiness.
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his escapades in california were brought to a close by a summon from the fort worth district attorney to appear at a grand jury hearing for the reck cigs. while the two men fumed in their california jail cells, norfleet caught the train to texas and sat in the pullman and thought about the case. his mind restlessly circulating the same facts. an elderly man folded up the newspaper, lean over, and introduced himself as perry garth. i have just been reading about the capture of the fellows. looks like they are in for it now, doesn't it? he countried, they would be if he had anything to do with it, and then came out the story. he was riveted. he decided to stop at fort worth with him to see how the trial turned out. in the meantime, he leaned in the corner of the car for a short nap. as he watched the head tip back into the seat and the light from
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the window play on the features, his mind froze. he knew that face. he was sure he never met him before, but the characteristics of the face were familiar. then he had it. perry was exactly what ej ward would look like in 30 years. his newest friend was instantly confident, the father of one of his mortal enemies sent to tail him and reel out information from him. he cursed his own egotism of the ignorant not considering the swindlers were as devious as he. he woke. reached for the suitcase, and drew out an elaborate lunch of many tempting morsels and offered them to norfleet, but as if compensating for his susceptibility, he turned down everything. the stuffed olives, the fruits, his pair know ya strength ped
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when he refused to eat his own food because of an upset stomach. it would be difficult to poisen two shells, and this small agent told him everything he needed to know about perry. reresolved to double his caution, and then in the next instant, he broke his resolution. he could not be held back and found himself in delightful conversation with a woman from georgia. when he learned she was a detective prior to her marriage, he granted her his confidence telling her his tale of woe giving presis descriptions of the three men at large and promised to watch for them as she continued across the country and wire him with any leads. norfleet stepped off the train at fort worth satisfied with the progress he'd made. perry got off with him, prohibited from following him in the grand jury hearing. norfleet testified against ward
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and gerber, and as he left, he asked, what did they do? did they bill the men? norfleet affected nonchai lance and did his part and the rest was up to the jury. he began to walk away. perry's voice said the hotels were booked for convention so could he join him in a room he secured # at a nearby boarding house. again, he declined, and he gave up and took the leave. norfleet shed indifference, swivelled around, and did the best intimidation of a private eye trailing him into a poor district into the house. when safely inside, he dashed back to the courthouse, buttonholed a newspaper reporter and con julyed him into returning back to the house confronting him with the knowledge of the true identity and publish it as a scoop. on the way back to the boarding house, however, norfleet got lost, and by the time they found it, he was gone, and traces of
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the stay erased. he took that as the strongest possible evidence that his supposition of the relationship to ward was correct. norfleet's testimony that afternoon secured ward and gerber's extradition from san bernardino to fort worth. sheriff sterling clark escorted the charges back to texas by train spending the winter in the jail. they made themselves home there, norfleet had another conversation that deflated his swelling since of triumph a little bit. he was at the jail when the pair of swindlers was visited by cornwall, a u.s. secret service agent who helped identify them as accomplices in the swindling of a washington, d.c. man, a furniture man. they were part of the infamous gang that used to operate out of new york. the photos of all the leaders are here in this town, cornwall informed them. i sent them to the city
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detective a long time ago to be on the watch for them and notify me if they appeared. norfleet was not trapped by the news. how much easier would the search have been to show to sheriffs, hotel managers, and retired detech titches. you stay here, and i'll bring enough pictures to make a family album. when he returned from the sheriff's office, he shook his head in frustration and told him that the office the claiming never to have received the photographs. norfleet thought the slight of hand performed on the other side of the sheriff's counter. the photographs may have been a false lead, but they gave norfleet something invaluable, renewed conviction that only he was responsible for bringing about justice. his disappointment was soon offset by a lead. the two swindlers he landed in jail would give him no information on the other three so he found himself once again with a wide open country to
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scour, and then he received a letter, forwarded to him at his hotel in fort worth from the retired lady detective. they matched the description of him down to the smaller pore. the woman moved close to him and eavesdropped on the conversation with the colleague, and started by telling the man that business in dallas and fort worth was as easy as running a picture show. clearly, that means only one thing. she leaned in closer. he was on the way to miami to play the game, and then came the kicker as he remarked in a casual aside. i think i'll stop a few days off in jacksonville, so manith boys are there, and i want to keep up with the gang and know who the suckers are. the wide open country telescoped down to a single city. he was in norfleet's sights, and as soon as he acquired a small arsenal of guns, disguises, deputy sheriff's credentials, an arrest warner, the cow puncher
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hopped on the next eastbound train. let's take a spot. he found to swindlers who swept a fellow texan and long time friend into the con, a man who just happened to have read norfleet's newspaper account in times to get wise and kick before being cleaned out, and norfleet recognized a stranger on the train as the father of a swindler in time to avoid further endangering himself, and finally, they described the leader to another stranger on the train, and she just happened to recognize that man halfway across the country, and obtain precisely the information needed to track him down. all of this in just 20 pages of the autobiography. either the world was several orders of magnitudes smaller in the 1920s or something other than stricts guides the account of the events. the first question his story
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raises is could he be conning us? his autobiography piles on the improbabilities without ever once acknowledging that they are improbabilities. he plays it so straight that it comes to seem like winking. for instance, the lady detective he met on the train tonight way to ward's hearing is named mrs. ward. as far as i know, he says this mrs. ward was in no way related to ej ward or the probable kin. it was just a coincidence. later in hot pursuit of joseph, he approaches a police officer on the street corner in florida who turns out to be named ward. he writes, i'd never get rid of the ward familiment on the one hand, maybe he should be commended for sticking to the truth of the narrative even when he risks our beliefs with particulars no novellests could get away with, but on the other hand, perhaps these details and
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asides should snag something to the readers. the narrative sounds different from norfleet's early life history. rather than moral reck to do, he has a hokey humor. when he finds himself almost broke in southern california, he takes a jaunt to the racetracks, finds a texas horse on the program, and bets the last $90. it would be a poor texas horse who couldn't win a little money for a poor texas cowman, i thought. according to the biography, the baby won and paid out 6-to-1, this from the same man who banned gambling on the ranch and preached to young men to live up to their mother's expectations. he attempted to restore his values so smairly violated by the urban tricksters, but when he leaves the ranch and embarks on the quest, his values begin to drift away from their
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origins. he starts to resemble enemies more than he realizes. take a man with a propensity for spinning yarns by the campfire and immersive in the arts of the swindler, and seems to be impersonating himself and daring us to believe him. this prompts a second and far more beguiling question. if he is conning us, do we mind? arguably, the most defining and perplexing characteristic of an american sense of son is a perennial willingness to be in the mark of a showman, artist, or a directer. you might also say a writer. audiences and spectators relished the very particular pleasure of accepting an inviation into a story they know might be false only to be immersed in it completely and duked at the end by what they thought was true. it is a sensation that's composed of equal parts admiration for the cleverness of the ploy and gratification at a
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neat resolution with a long pedigree in american culture. now, the rest of the chapter goes on to detail the pedigree in american culture, and the book tells about norfleet's story and how actually it it really is true, but i wanted you to have a flavor why it's interesting to poke at his own story a little bit, and i wanted to end with a paragraph from the end of the book so you can see where that poking brings us in the end to this idea of sort of an american sense of fun. nor fleet's life is the story of triumphing over susceptibility by embracing it. perhaps one of the reasons he captivated so many listeners and areas with the tale is he gave expression to the identity few otherwise would be able to admit they sharedded. he never had skepticism that the experts of the day tried to instill in the american population. instead, he let out his inner mark, that fragile bubble of
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hope and optimism that led him into joseph's trap, but what led him to believe he had a chance of succeeding on his quest, two stories that would never have happened without a large measure of gullibility. certainly, this is as essential to american mythology as the self-made man, but the adventures go further to suggest the mark inside is the first requirement for narrative itself. what he did was cultivate the characteristic until it was knowing, self-aware, perennially game for a kind of wide awake deception. he recognized the personality type that fits american paternity, the sophisticated sucker. thank you. [applause] >> i would love to hear questions, stories about the conning, any discussion we can
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have. >> thanks a lot. i loved the book. >> thank you. >> i was curious, and -- [inaudible] how did you initially get interested in the subject, and when you discovered the subject, did it instabilitily strike you as something endemic in the american psychology, or was that something that came to you as you were studying it? >> uh-huh. i first discovered norfleet when i was researching my dissertation, which is boring, but i was wrilling a chapter on autobiographies by con artists which are interesting. there were not any until after the 21st century. how do you convince your readers you're telling the truth when your provings is that as a liar.
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there's rhetorical strategies on the page, and that struck me as very american and not particular just to the genera of memoir, but then also there was clearly a fascination with the stories of this time, and that's the time the big con came about. as i researched the stories, i really wanted to read a book that would tell me the history of con games and what was popular when, what was in fashion, what matched up with the economic opportunities of the time; right? because all of these cons are par parasitic on mainstream investment; right? there was no such book. there was a hole in my mind that needed to be filled, and what happened is i discovered norfleet, and i thought that his book was similar to the memoirs i was researching, that it was -- that it wasn't true. none of the conmen memoirs are not true, and obviously, his
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can't be true because it's too good to be true. it's obviously a false memoir of someone lying about being in the deceptive arts, interesting, useful to me, but then i found out it was true, and then that seemed like a good place to start to write the book that tried to periodize con games and talk both the ways that they have been crucial to economic development in the country. it's a good story, but it's also a kind of story from the underground and a way to get an underground history as well. i know people in this room have been conned. [laughter] statisticically, it's -- statusly, it's likely so if you'd like to tell the story.
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[laughter] >> what do you think a modern day con would look like? you have the 20th century con. what are some of the kinds of things that you would see in today's society that kind of mirror what you saw back then? >> well, we all know now about ponzi schemes thanks to bernie madoff, and that's an instance of an old con from the beginning of the 20th century, but it's continued in nearly unchanged form to the present day, and, in fact, even in just the past two years, well after madoff made headlines, he was exposed in 2008, but just in the past two years, the fec continued to prosecute over 2 00 schemes which is incredible giving the lie that once you know how a connist works, you are not susceptible to it anymore. you actually can't necessarily be inoculated against it, and so
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some cons don't die out and are not particular to a particular moment in history, and so ponzi is the best instance of that. a few weeks ago, there was an article about an am mental -- amish man who ran a ponzi scheme. he didn't intend to defraud, but he did. there's plenty of cons that are particular to our time, and they all happen on the interpret. the famous one is the nigerian 419 schemes. they are not all from nigeria, but that's the name of the con if you go to the fec website, they warn you against that. there's some deposed nigerian prince or, you know, some high up executive. a lot of them come out of the middle east now as well, and they've got some sort of treasure that's locked up in a
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bureaucratic way, but you can help them unlock the treasure in some complicated way that will generally involve you traveling to a loot of foreign countries, but if you invest, you get a share of the treasure, and it's hard to believe how it works, but it's got a similar structure to the big con in that no one can ever been swindled by something that's too obviously not true or implausible. too obviously imagine call money, too obviously something for nothing, but lots of people can be swindled by this idea that if you spend a little bit of money, oftentimes in friendship or altruism which is what the 419 scheme plays on, spend a little of money, and you get a lot back. it's a sort of easy entry that plays on greed but also a lot of times plays on other things like friendship or so i think we all have those e-mails in our spam
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folders right now. they must work or they wouldn't keep sending them. >> when i was reading it, i thought the story was familiar, but i couldn't think of another example of someone who was conned and then took revenge. are there others you found? >> yeah. it's a truism in the conman autobiographies that i read, and any time a swindler is bragging about his exploits, he'll say that the sucker never squeals because the con is so deviously structured that the mark is ashamed or fearful of being prosecuted; right? as i researched norfleet's story, there's a lot of instances of suckers squealing. they squeal all the time. they go to the nearest district attorney, police station, and they tell their story. what happens is that the story ends rooght there because the people are all bought off, and
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they never go off the swindlers, but there are a few instances of swindlers that -- sorry, of marks that did what norfleet did and take it into their own hands to go after these guys. i mean, it's kind of incredible to think of you actually just going off on a mad cap quest. it's so implausible you could be successful at that. why try? i did find others. they are not famous people, but there's newspaper accounts, and then i shared the script with graduate students at cornell, and one woman's grandfather pulled a norfleet, and he was actually from canada. he was swindled in florida, which is where everyone is swindled in the winter time. the swindlers go there, and he was down there for sun, lost the savings, went home, went back to florida, and he got his conman, and when he died years later, they talked about that at his funeral because that was the extraordinary story of his life, and so it's not a common story, but it's not as uncommon as
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maybe the conman would have you believe. >> was there anything left out of the story that at some point you had to say, okay, this is the story, and i can't include everything i want. >> oh, yeah. specifically about norneat? >> or in general. >> yeah. well, i mean, there's a lot that i did write that was cut because i got very interested in the story -- in norfleet's personal history. i went deep into texas panhandle history. i found that very interesting, and then later, the second half of the book, norfleet goes to denver, and denver is a fixed uptown where the swiped leers basically control everything, and there's many overlapping teams of swindlers swiped ling marks all at the same time. it's incredible. i went deep into that history as well because how did that town of anywhere become this safe
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place for swindling? there's a specific answer to do with denver history, but that had to be shortened. in terms of norfleet's story, absolutely. his autobiography is packed with various story lines, and i had to pair it down bus my book would be as long as his plus three more at least. he, you know, i don't think i'm spoiling anything by saying he does eventually get the swindlers, but there's many twists and turns along the way. he didn't have an editor, so i was doing that telling the story. there were parts he didn't know. when he dwoaz after joe, the -- goes after joe, the ring leader, he finally gets him, but the story after joe goes to jail is great. that's not in his story. he doesn't want to be locked up.
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he figures out a partial solution. i added things in, and then i edited out one instance of the autobiography. there's a woman named mrs. street, and she's this small, trim, neat woman and turns out everywhere, but is deadly and devious, not what she seems, but nothing happens with that, so i took her out because i couldn't figure out a way. if you like this story, his autobiography is there to read. it's a page turner. it's very hokey, and it's the dialogue because he loved that. the stories are great. they are long winded. >> how do you research something like this? i know there's the autobiography and jumping off points, but newspaper articles, or you going the norfleet? >> a lot pops up, yeah, so how
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do you research the story? on the one hand, you have to research it, you have to fact check the autobiography, do due diligence. he was an ordinary guy, uneducated, not a well-known person, and so, but he quickly enters the public record, and it's mainly newspapers, and they did his story that was incredibly interesting to people at the time. newspapers across texas and the country followed his exploits, and he became known for what he was doing, and his name was shorthand for going after people that have -- criminals. not just necessarily conman, but going after a criminal, and so then, but, you know, newspapers are, you know, he can game the newspapers themselves if he wanted to. he's not. he's not actually conning
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anyone, but he's exaggerating the story a little bit. how do you penetrate that level of falsehood? then there are court documents that detail what happened to each of the men that he caught, and there's court transcripts. interestingly, the main court case that i would have liked to use when he makes it to denver and tries to bring down the denver con gang, i mean, this is another story i didn't get into in what i read tonight, but it's, you know, 30-plus -- no issue more than that, team of swindlers that have got a strangle hold on the city of denver, and there was a trial, and it was extensive, and it's completely missing from the denver courthouse records. if you did to the microfilm, the court knew mareically, the case before and after it are there, and somebody just photographed in the microfilm a note saying these records are missing.
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there's a story there that i don't know. you have to wonder who would have been hurt by that being public. you know, lots of local sources. i tried as hard as i could to track down descendents of people in the book, not because they would remember anything, but because they would have letters and scrapbook, and i found some of that, unpublished biography by someone of texas district attorney who accompanied him on his escapades, and he said in the autobiography, well, you know, he exaggerated a little bit, but mostly verified the events, and so in the end, what's amazing about the story is how much we can verify how much just didn't disappear into this sort of ordinary life, but how much made it into the public records, and how much he was telling the truth, but slanting it so that he was pretty much always the hero. [laughter] yeah in >> in your research,
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either with norfleet or with others, did you come across the iconic dedicated, smart, tough lawman thing? if so, in literature, but seemingly less so in reality, and did you occasionally come across those people or even ever? >> so, you mean, like a sheriff or police officer? >> yeah. >> yeah, there were a few. the sheriff shay that i mentioned in the excerpt i read tonight was an honest one, and flrp a few that helped norfleet out along the way, but by and large, there was so much corruption, and i tell the stories here. he encountered so many people bought off or double dealings, and that became his sort of sideline, too, was to expose that and bring that to light, and he 4 to sort of, you know, a little hobby along the way as the main quest which was to bring down the crooked police officers. he was the lawman, the mythic
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figure that you're describing. he was very styles himself after a dime novel, american mythic hero; right? part cowboy, part detective, you know, in a noir sense who is familiar with the underword, but not tainted by it. he's -- you know, some of the other drsh -- what are some of the other generas? so i think he was taking that on, and that might have been why other people were so interested in his story is that, well, here it is for real. here is someone who is not managed to be ensnared in the corruption everyone sees around them, but, yes, there were some hoppest police officers, but none of them took on the quest like norfleet did. none of them would have been able to really break apart structures embedded in the
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towns. it took someone completely outside of all of those and completely oblivious to, you know, the norm to come in and blow it all apart and bring publicity to it and that kind of thing. >> did norfleet's film survive, the one he made? >> yeah. he started to make a silent film starring himself, produced by himself, financed by himself right before the great depression. it was never finished. all we know is that one of the actresses sued him for something, which is curious because there's not any women in the story. i don't know what role she might have taken in this, and, no, the film did not survive. there's a few stills, and that's it. i looked, but i don't know what happened to it, which is such a shame. the stills are amazing. they are so campy, but, you know, that's the era of silent films there, but peering out of
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bushes with a gun with the eye liner on, and so, it would have been good. [laughter] he saw the film potential in his story. like, he saw this belonged on the big screen, but, alas, another moment of american history intervened. >> if they make this into a movie, who plays norfleet? [laughter] >> i mean, i just see -- i see paul newman in that role because he's not -- norfleet was short, 5'4 #, which is interesting to think about him in relation to the con mapp who were towering. i think of paul newman, the blue eyes, and paul newman's in "the sting. i don't know. i don't know. let's play that game. [laughter] it can't be someone, you know, it's not like a brad pitt hero. that's not who he is; right? it's got to be, i don't know, james franco do a good job?
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i don't know. someone with -- >> robert downey, jr.. >> robert -- >> john stewart. >> i'll give him a call and say we talked tonight and all agreed. [laughter] could be good. [laughter] >> so are there talks about a movie? >> no. as these things happen, you publish a book, and then people try to sell it in hollywood, and that competes with other books people sell in hollywood. the feedback we got is that hollywoodments a really bloody shootout in the end, norfleet to fight president conman, which he does not. that's the point of the book. he could have. his cowboy sense of justice would have entitled him to kill these guys, but he made the choice early on to catch them by guile so that means he's not going to have ad bloody shootout so hollywood doesn't get the
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book. [laughter] not yet. yeah? >> british hustle -- [inaudible] >> yes, i think i've seen that awhile ago. >> it's a great show about con artists, but one of the things they try to make a moral distinction between people that really are greedy or unethical versus someone who gets bought into a swindle. have you seen real life dwixes? >> conman who will not swindle the retiree on a small pension, but those who are greedy? >> right. >> that is another truism that appears in every biography or interview every conman gave. they only swindle the people who have it come and their swindles work by greed and only greedy responds to it. i don't buy it. i think they would swindle anyone they could because the truth is they just didn't appeal to greed, but a lot of nice
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emotions we should be proud we have like intelligence and kindness, and so i think that's a very self-justifying, take that with a grain of salt, but they, you know, they considered themselves the aristocrats of the criminal world because they don't use violence and because apparently they are choosey about who they swindle. yeah, i don't think it's true. ..
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[applause] >> dial justin author of the social conquest of edward wilson talks about the rise and domination of the mississippians as he reexamines how socially evidence species have come to dominate the earth. this is in our. [applause] [applause] >> well, good evening. i'm just went to speak out for a minute here.
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[laughter] what we are going to do tonight is have a conversation. i've got some questions here that have come to my mind that i would like the opportunity to ask you and other people have had the opportunity to do this. then we will open up the floor for questions from you all as well. we will keep this fairly light and casual. i think just to start, one of the things that's always amazed me is you for ten over 25 books now. [laughter] which are having to do with science and science topics. so there's the question why? why do all this work to general science books and science information for the general audience? >> i enjoy writing.
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[laughter] i'm a southerner. we tell stories. we love telling stories, that's all. no, i write easily, and i also have written subjects of science that have a broad interest. i've also had the ambition to move biology, particularly evolutionary biology which is in the fringes of the national science direction of social science and humanities to move us closer to other branches of learning as we have some sort of dialogue, colloquy across the great branches, something that hasn't been achieved although there's been ambition. >> how close do you think you've come? >> i think we are beginning and that's not my effort but the biological sciences, and particularly in that direction
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in the studies of the brain and of the studies of human evolution through neurobiology and those are subjects that are in this book. >> that's some fairly heavy stuff they're i think from where we all come from to the idea of moral sense. these are very big topics. [laughter] at the heart of us is evolution, so i would love to know what is your -- what is your one sentence definition of evolution? >> it has like most heavily used words in the language, particularly in english, several meanings according to the context as we all know of any
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gradual change that occurs from one state to the next, and then by all what she means a kinetic change and a species or population that leads from one state to the other. whether or not it is adaptive we see evolution occurs through natural selection therefore it is about it. but the technical definition of it by the geneticist is the change in the frequency of genes within a population. >> so you think the major points of confusion in terms of the general public would be? certainly it's a word that has been used in a lot of different context and a lot of different ways, and it's certainly broken its way into kind of general language.
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>> welcome that would be i think the world view held by everyone except [inaudible] [laughter] >> so, in your new book you have taken on the issue were put forward the position that has generated response, yet again, in terms of your approach to looking at where the idea of altruism comes from. >> it's been a question, but since my research life has been devoted primarily to the social insight which are the most advanced, the highly advanced social system, granted it's all driven by instinct, very non-human animal.
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when i set up the discipline of sociobiology in 1971, i had to include humans and i took a lot of heat for that. so my interest in humans has increased and i have taken a great interest. and i see for reasons a for mentioned that we are getting close to bringing the great branches of learning together, and that can be probably the most exciting intellectual development of this century is to see the continuity of cause and effect explanation, the mutual understanding across those branches. the evolution as well and the story of american revolution, the african story of evolution, humanity especially now that we can begin to attach it to changes in behavior led me to
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want to take what i knew about social insects and what happens and became this world conquering statement. a tiny number of species reach what we call sociology that means true sociology, but what it means is it is producing societies that have a division of labor, persists over the generations will operate differently and have a division of labor in some degree in altruism. i discovered looking at the social impact, welcome on a and another colleague, that something like 20 -- round that off a little bit, in the history
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that sociology has been reached. that's a very rare condition, and it was very slow in coming up until about to hundred 50 million years ago. there was not a single case even though the large populations of all kinds, and then there's nothing that we can see and a good long while and in good times when that appeared on the lands to go for it well. the old way and most have attached all of the derby the cover the bride, the mass of
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insects to make a tiny fraction of the species that is ecological dominance. and we all know what homeless , homosapians are like. but the astonishing fact that the biology biologists have not noticed, the one that i just stated, in the long time it took to appear in addition to asking that question to look at what happened and the arguments about
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the genetics of altruism is overlooked and call attention to what actually did happen, which we can trace found to need to finish up that they are marine creatures and it's happened the same way the same time, no exception. and it's consistent -- consisted ever since each of step of a variable to edolphus evolve and evolution ochre. so they went to the same level of difficult to follow to the one point where solitary individuals or a small group
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which was loosely organized built a nest, expensive nest which they defend, the female defend some and which she or a meat and another battle group goes for food and brings it back to the nest to feed the young progressively until they grow up and become advanced and ready to disperse. when you reach that stage, every case, no exception, with every small step you can go over to the new social society and that is what happened. so with regards to the question when i saw that i thought that was the correct way to investigate the use of altruism. there are advanced stages of altruism, then i took a very close look at the evolution of
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humanity and an enormous amount has come out in the last ten, 20 years upon the evolution of the human life. all of my reference is primary literature from the period of literature by the authors who actually did the research like a jigsaw puzzle. i'm going on much too long. i know this is supposed to be a conversation. [laughter] this is what you get. [laughter] when you have a harvard professor and a professor emeritus. [laughter] [applause] i don't know the meaning of the applause. [laughter]
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it happened about three or 3 million years ago. it happened in a group of our ancestors. there is evidence of tht. vegetarian that is the one that started hunting and getting a lot of meat to the diet, and by the time that the homoerectus comes along we know they were making permanent or long-term campsite's they were going out and bringing animals in that they were hunting. almost certain that began. because at that .2 million years ago all about the size of a
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shuffle slightly smaller on the african savanna, but at that moment the science involved and in 1 million years it had gone from 400 to the present 1,000, 2,000, and thus it would appear that humans are quite consistent with reaching the news is in the mushy and advanced culture, advanced society. and of course we were different in that we developed culture along the way. but the culture very much as by the instinct that evolved in the freedom. >> so, you've laid out in the picture you talk about the society again building a nest and this idea of the fire and having had sites in that technology in a sense is the precursor in the immediate step
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to this other larger social. >> the trends of culture. they have technology. but they also have 400 centimeters of brain only. but different cultures show, different cultures i mean different localities in england, the congo and so on, they have different level local populations have different behaviors they pass on, clearly the cultural matter. another one uses digging tools for sticks to dig out tumors. others make tools to fish for termites.
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they wanted so badly that they don't have the apparatus. [laughter] >> so, this approach, this theory you put forward and there's a fair amount of concern and consternation on some scientists about mr. action. where do you see this coming from? >> welcome this is a question of when you published -- >> a fair amount of controversy. >> how do we view that? [laughter] in 1964 and wind put together for the selection which actually came from the earlier best history now, and what he
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proposed was advanced society, altruism, and advanced society like the one that i have just been describing to originate when you have a close group of individuals, the tight little group without much motivation, but that group has individuals that are closely related to one another. and this sort of close related to one another siblings, uncles, aunt, not direct house parents that is the individual level selection in the last detail. if there were collaborations that could be done that for altruistic all of these men still wouldn't be of losing their genes because they have identical genes in these
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causality is that they are protected. so it is the gene protecting the genes. the close kin get together and cooperate because they have these. i bought it when i first published the sociobiology introductions to it and the science of c2 biology because it is quite reasonable at that time and it is very protective as a matter of fact. and one piece of evidence was, not getting too technical about it, it seems to be limited view of sociology besides humans, besides the termites. seems to be mostly to walk. they had a method of determination closely related to one another in terms of the
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genes de share and even mothers and daughters. so, it just works out that way. and this appeal to hamilton as a possible explanation of why at that time most of these social societies, like most of them had that. sisters more closely related to each other than the mom. sisters get together, form a society. very nice. it's such a pity. [laughter] because what's happened was that connection collapsed and more and more was found that it didn't have that particular six determinant. so quietly the people put it
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aside. they were against it. not true. but i saw a lot more coming and i won't go into details. i started publishing papers, this isn't working very well. we better correct this. look at the evidence here and equally well which you are using to support this small group of enthusiasts who are using it and teaching at. what you are calling evidence of the selection equally well by the route selection. for selection cayman by the group -- came in by the group with a strong mechanism for creating altruistic behavior. and that is wrong. so, my little warnings were not
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paid attention to even though i had started the whole thing with help. so, at some point i decided i would exit and do something more at that time i was the only person that saw what happened by seeing what we know about the steps that lead up to it in the kin selection. and at that point the mathematicians approached me at harvard. they were mathematicians of the first rank. the prodigy which i described a little earlier who were at the heart of the math department. she had won the math olympiad three years earlier.
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so they came to me and said you know, we decided to look at this thing presented as a formula for all of this. the kin selection process. and we found that it has no solid foundation. in fact it's wrong mathematically. no one had ever done that before. why? because it was an extremely difficult mathematical problem. they hadn't bothered, but then in the evidence you've got to bring back the group's election, then we got something entirely new opened up, and that's where we are now. no supporter to my knowledge in 18 months after when they got moved in the nation magazine has ever addressed the scientific issues. that is mathematical and
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accuracy and also in the better explanation. and that's where we are at the present time. i show in the new book that finally we have an explanation of how terrorism works and how it's originated, but this what we know about human beings that's where we are at the present time. >> and this use of the selection had individual selection getting a fair amount of power in terms of the kinds of behaviors. >> i want to start and realize what's been going on. darwin saw the ads to be the death of the theory while he was writing to the species, and so
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he himself said he couldn't explain how it is that the worker ants which don't have offspring could evolve into these elaborate forms and tickle the natural workers. he thought about that a long time coming and a famous story about him, which i will introduce with the heavy conversations before you move on to another entertaining subject. [laughter] he was walking a landfill in the
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house finally said, referring to the novelist who lives in the state nearby, they don't have something to pass the time. [laughter] anyway darwin figured it out and basically what he figured it out is the selection of the colony advanced specialist, nei then it was the sense of man. he said group forces troops showed a five got this right result in the speakers that we think of as virtual inventiveness and helpfulness and so on and essentially that is where we are today and i will tell you it is. each one is a simplification but
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i think it is true. first of all terrorist the process. individual selection based on parents taking care of offspring having them come having as many offspring as possible proportionately represented in the next population we've got that down. for example the selection is usually referred to a group selection is the genes that affects that have to do with the introductions of individuals and how to communicate, how they cooperate, how well the bond together and how the act as humans. so it's better to versus group those traits are quite different from the ones coming from the individual level selection because they are more likely to create the armor and the
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morality, and so here we have these two levels of selection. and they are antagonistic because the following. selfless individuals beat the altar list of individuals. but altruistic the group's of the individuals beat the group of social and individuals. it is simple as that they will work out a whole new foundation of it for to make it simple, individual selection tends to produce what we would call the selfishness and conniving and the human traits make the
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reading of fiction so interesting. [laughter] and bigger selection promotes and its antagonistic and this is the most important thing about it about the human condition. i think it answers the question we are answering the big questions is why i've brought in well, where we come from, and where are we going? the answer is a little disconcerting. it appears the group's election as a driving force with individual level selection as the group's election that is what helps it developed so quickly it creates an eight virtue and morality because that is antagonism of the individual
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level and a very genetic mix and savitt will never be because if we ever drove and we are caught into this conflict condition, the conflict it condition is what is very human and will always be conflicted to some degree. if we went all the way to the individual selection the society would dissolve. we work all the way to a group selection, then we would become like ants, so we never can be anything but conflict. but when you think about it, this is a source of human creativity. what creates us is this conflict, causes conflict
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geniuses. highly creative and also produces internal conflicts in each of us and in the society. that's the bottom line i would say to the political scientist, the jihadists and those that dream of a perfect harmony on the humanity with the help. [laughter] but there is no perfect state, there is no perfect ideologies and there will not be perfect role of government. they have to work things out in this turmoil in the terminal kaleidoscope in the interactions we have. it may be true that all of the two dozen times that we know what that this high level
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culture all take the same route there may be less involved in an intelligent life such as exists. all of it has become. but i didn't want to visit science fiction. [laughter] >> you brought up twitter and did a lot of communications but in the social groups how they communicate, but what is your take on tweeting and facebook? >> all you have to do is read the op-ed page. i should mention that. the articles of what passes for intellectuals in the united
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states are now constantly on the subject of what is this doing to us? what is it doing to the conversation, what is it doing to education? what is it doing to how the mind works? we don't know yet, because we haven't done this experiment yet to read some would say twitter of course carries the conversation. we say well because everything is so easy on google. kids know if you ask them a question like who is the third roman emperor after caesar. [laughter] and that's impressive but what is that doing in terms of their mind and their creativity if they are not having long periods of time if that ever were the case to reflect and develop their own persona and their own world view and their own ideas. we don't know where it's going
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to get it could go the opposite. it could go to a much more, much better informed and better educated and more thoughtful world society. what do you think? [laughter] >> i think it is coming one way or another. we will find out. i think that there is an entirely new language. >> we are now -- i think actually we have answered the first two questions. i think we can answer the question where do we come from. i think the answer begins with probably what are we? now we are about to find out where we are going. in the case of knowing i think knowing where we came from and what we are is very helpful. i think it is necessary to have it hammered out based on science and the conversation of justice. i think we are probably coming close to resolve with the
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answer. now we have to find out where we are going. >> let me ask a final question for me at least. where do you think -- where do you hope we are going? >> in my book i have the question that no one can say in which 17th century has been doubling every ten to 20 years. i think we can say some of the things that we should not be going. okay. and i -- know other popular view. are you sure you want to hear them? [laughter] one of the things i think we should move away from is what we
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traditionally had on organized religion. by that i don't mean on religion in the sense of spirituality and the fear of the theologians search for the transcendent for the hopeful. i mean the creation story. that's the killer. there are hundreds of religions and many of them have the creation story. almost all of the creation stories were created a long time ago in the late irony for example. and they were put together by the profits who didn't know anything except those societies they were in. they didn't know anything about
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the prehuman, and they moved down the best they could in that sentence. that's the problem because we are an intensely troubled society. the psychologists for his interesting. they know they are arbitrarily divided into teams, and then they place simple games. there's a very short period of time each of the members of the their team are not trustworthy or they don't think they are as good. [laughter]
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and then, you know, seeing so brilliantly on our athletic teams the war of course, and we are intensely group oriented. the old tried tried was a very concrete and simple and that is how it evolved. but it is far more complicated, and we just haven't figured out yet how to slice and dice it in our daily activities and in what we believe and what we think our religion ought to be and so on and so on. the other thing that develops that seems is extremely intense, but it is so human, how should i say get, so paleolithic as we
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think of this as almost like air and water, and that is our interest in other people. that started another times and there are psychologists who were delving deeply into the subject now. it is what we are reading and other people's intentions and that is how they were able because it is necessary if you have a group that spends more and more on cooperation as the hunting societies on the base then you need to know what every person in that group is up to, what they think, what they are reliable, which ones you can get to cooperate and which ones you can get to regulate, which ones you can depend upon, which ones
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you can bond with and we developed a genius, we are absolutely geniuses as the psychologists say in the intention. and we do it with intense focus. and we are engaging in a fundamental and very beneficial activity of gossip, how to pass the information back and forth. how can you establish the position in the group? we are relentlessly watching television, movies, fiction, best-selling nonfiction work on the human social behavior and it all comes down to the same thing. we just cannot keep our mind off of it, and we are -- that is
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that kind of ability and that kind of drive is where we are. it shouldn't be surprising that we have those in ten searches. that's important. we know we have those urges because that explains a lot of the difficulty that we are in now. >> i'm going to ask you one other quick one because to explain the evolution and what i've been experiencing the last several years of the top of my head -- [inaudible] [laughter] the evolutionary vantage point on the hairline. >> i thought you knew that. [laughter] >> something to do with testosterone. >> all right. [laughter] >> now that you've asked, we
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want to make this an entertaining evening. you know, anthropology 201 at harvard. yes, we have a very good idea of why we don't have any hair on the body. it's because we are persistent hunters. persistent hunting is seen best in the havana where humanity evolved. you can see it today. you go out there and try to slow it down but if you don't succeed, then you can follow it. you can pick a career out of a small herd and you can chase a. of these animals for millions of years of evolution have become
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sprinters. deacons print away from every predator except the cheetas. we were ebal to be distant trotters. we are relatively slow, but we can go on and on. so these hunters, the hunters and their hopes following animals. they are superb trekkers, so if an animal gets out of sight, they know the branch, the drop of blood they are behind it and they keep going and they kill it to be a long-distance runner, that motive of hunting is of
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course required a lot of heat exchange commanders argued basically that that is why we lost our hair. it's a cooling device to have hair. to have an unusually cool head [laughter] then you have the execs petition. [laughter] let's open up to questions. i'm sure you'll have. i'm sorry, i wanted to get through the nitty gritty, but this is worth talking about. >> yes? >> so, raise your hand here, folks. there is a microphone on either side here. >> how do you start a conversation with a fundamentalist to bring them around to your point of view?
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[laughter] >> you don't. [laughter] [applause] you speak good science courses into the media and entertainment, and then you teach good courses under the school. that's the only way. [applause] >> what you don't understand about fundamentalists, biblical literalists and other jihadists, atlantic extremists and so on, is that they are totally irrational on these issues because these beliefs are not rational, they have their signature traits of the tried. a few who dillinger anything -- we are talking about creation here. we don't have to worry about
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faith in god and the presence, anything of this sort. we are talking about creation stories, and those are absolutely fundamentalist and if you mess around with any of it, it is taken as a personal threat, and that is what you are dealing with. [applause] >> i'd like to know how subtle is the science that we all go back to the same mother and africa 200,000 years ago? >> you go back the population we didn't know goes back to a single individual. what happens is that if you remember in the evolution of languages, certain names like hawken joyner or st. john
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disappear. they disappear by in this case the conviction to pass through. but at least there are certain aims that go all the way that i think survive all the way from john come and in the same way there were certain genes transmitted in the x chromosome the would be for certain the female line which has persisted. they spread through the whole population and they have persisted ever since through the whole population from one individual you can track it back, one individual but that doesn't mean she is the ancestor. the ancestor of everyone. her jeans, one of her genes are a small number survive from the
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present day just the way that the name hawken or harvard had survived for the present time. >> robert has done some interesting work on deception and self deception. i can see how it could evolve in terms of individuals in the work done in terms of how it may have been served. >> that's correct. i think it is true with individuals and groups. i don't know how robert phyllis about the new presentation. i hope he comes to agree through the some of his work was done with assumptions of the period,
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and that probably doesn't work now. but later he did excellent work on the conflict and now he's published a book on deception comes of deception and so on and i think that we've all known about that but i think that he wanted to produce more of a scientific explanation and if he were on the stage with me i would get him to agree with what he was writing about from the individual level selection and groups election. >> right here in the front. >> when you're talking about the individual selection and the group's election, when you said there was always a conflict, is that mean scientifically we can
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never have peace in the world? because of the concept? >> you will never have a joining of the groups. i don't think we will ever -- informing the groups is so fundamental because humanity it's part of us. what we are more likely to do in the future is to continue that but we will be creating new kinds of groups. i believe there will be a diminished and of the organized religion basically because of the problems with the creation of stories. there may be -- it's hard to predict, but there may be the softening of nationalism. it's hard to say. new groups will be forming all the time. when i say i don't know what direction it's going to take, but it's certainly not going to lead to a one world idea unified
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in human society. no. it's too human to be blown to groups and consider that they are superior, real superior like the red sox and the patriots. [laughter] >> they asked me not to be provocative. [laughter] >> a lot comes from rooting for the home team and despairing and cheering and so on. but they will always have that and the equivalence to it. >> thinking about where we are going, i wonder if he would comment about the future in terms of scarce resources and population growth and the implication of that i know a are both of interest to you. >> population growth has taken as you probably know a very
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strange twist on excess of numbers are no longer the worry unless we have a reversal in the industrial life countries in the current fertility trends. the break-even point is to .1 children per woman. that is the population growth. .1 child allows for that percentage, 5% to are not going to make. all of the industrialized countries now are about below that, they are well below it and they are beginning with a negative population growth. that has seized the holding countries like germany and it soon going to be a severe problem in japan and china, and the latest united nations
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population projections have in present trend is accelerating or decelerating trends. they are doing world peace at somewhere around 9 billion people or 7 billion. it could be as low as nine and if we continue. and if we had a reversal, which is highly unlikely so that women everywhere began to choose, the whole thing is based on a woman's choice. what does liberation save the world? [laughter] [applause] as it turns out, they want women in every society being independent on the financial independence and the freedom to do what they wanted. they decided to stop letting their husbands when the lotteries and a couple of quality children and the fertility rate. if we had the reverse khayat
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chollet if we tighten still more we can peek out -- av could." reached the end of the century below what it is now. there is a set of reversals which is highly unlikely. and then we could go up as high as 15 billion or more and that would be disastrous. the problem is not the number of human beings. if you knew that you could take all 7 billion people come if you don't believe me, try this on the back of an envelope some time, 7 billion people and launch them, if you could do that and then sit into a single cubic mile in the grand canyon it's not human flesh. [laughter] is not just people running around. it is the assumption.
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it's everybody wanting american level of life. we have to do one or the other two things. we have to slow ourselves and to use the finest of our science and technology so we have increased per capita with economic growth in the section of wealth combined with quality life far less natural resources. that is the key if i might sound like a presidential candidate. [laughter]
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you were talking about progress in the society as coming as the result of groups. >> as the result of what? >> as a matter of groups if we work together but on the upper hand the genius of individuals who are acting selfishly for their own benefit and aggrandizement i would say are the ones who are really making the greatest progress in our society. do you feel that the group's what overwhelm? >> not at all. in fact i couldn't agree with you more. i am just finishing another but to put in the pipeline. i'm not going to keep writing books forever. but letters to a young scientist shows everything teaching at harvard for 40 years.
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there's a lot of discoveries and new developments in science feel that we are doing it themselves. so i know how for the innovation takes place, and it's not groupthink. it is not going to come from taking a bunch of bright people with think tanks blackboards think together to produce great ideas that's not the way it works it's usually in vicious and enterprising to do something new with preferably where no one
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has tried before and goes for it and you find the time and time again was an individual like that and every society and a free larger group you have to find who they are there least likely to succeed the low team and that one person then pursues and requires a spirit of entrepreneurship if anything is more important than the high iq that person then gathers people, collaborators, one here who can do the math of medical and another one there will doing the national product chemistry and another one there who knows how to design the right computer programs to push forward.
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but that is not the group that is innovative. >> you're right, and that is not going to disappear at all. >> in my humble opinion. >> this is the first time that i have had a meeting like this, and nobody ever asked me a question. [laughter] >> one last question. [laughter] >> please was he right or wrong when he said nice guys finish last? >> nice guys finish last. not at all i don't think. the nice guy may in fact be the one that is having a great idea
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or gets enough cooperators around him or her to for the coalition that starts a political movement or is the -- knows how to run the company at a time when the good will and partnership among their key employees is important by size. that is the new trend in the business management, is it not? life-size? [laughter] >> why don't you join me in thanking. [applause] thank you all for coming. ..
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>> next on booktv, boston of university journalism profession, christopher daly, and his book "discovering america" says journalism is in dangerous and point the to the obstacles the media industry faced throughout its industry. this is a little under an hour. >> welcome, everybody, and, pleasings --
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please, take your seat. okay. i'm nick lemon, the dean of the graduate school of journalism, and this is an event to celebrate the publication of a book called "covering america" which is the history of american journalism, and i'm sure it soon will be the standard of american history of american journalism for many years to come by this gentleman, christopher b. daly, a professor of journalism at boston university and an old friend of mine. to give you some idea how far back we go, when i knew chris, there was a lot of hair up here, and no hair down here. >> that's right. >> anyway, here's what we're going to do. we have a fairly i want mat gathering. i want to leave time for q&a. i'll spend the first 30 # minutes of this event doing sort
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of interrogating him about the book from this seat, and then we'll go interactive with the audience for another 20 minutes or so, and then we have free food and wine in the back which i hope everybody will enjoy for a little while, okay? so -- >> thank you, nick. >> should be -- okay. so as journalists, we're taught to look for the local angle so before we go to the grand themes of the book, we're just going to do that so tell us about this guy, joseph pulitzer, who founded this school? >> well, pretty -- pulitzer is a fascinating character who started this school, had the greatest impact on the field. as some of you may knowings he came to this country under very trying circumstances.
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he came as a recruit to the union army in the middle of the civil war. the army was at that point so desperate for new recruits that they were taking just about anybody, and they took this very unpromising soldier with poor eyesight, but he got through, survived the civil war, and found himself after the war in a german speaking part of the country in st. louis, and through a combination of tremendous effort, energy, pluck, and happy circumstances, he ended up a part owner of a newspaper in st. louis. parlay that into ownership of a failing newspaper here in new york city, and started remaking the world of journalism by his tremendous willingness to experiment. pulitzer tried almost anything
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in order to breakthrough to the mass circulation he was seeking so, you know, in short order, he started throwing things into his newspaper like comics. he's one of the first to publish regular sunday comics. famously, had a comic called "hogan's alley" featuring a little urchin wearing a yellow night shirt as the origin of the phrase "yellow journalism," and pulitzer kept experimenting. one of the things he deserves credit for is discovering women. not to say that, you know, they had been lost or anything, but pulitzer was working very hard to commercialize his newspaper to make it a financial success, and worked very closely with advertisers. what they figured out together was that many of the purchasing decisions in the household are made by women.
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what should the children wear? what soap should we use? what sheets shall we buy? these were the very things that new york manufacturers and retailers wanted to, you know, publicize, and so pulitzer was thinking, well, how can i connect these women readers with these retailers? came upon a very good answer which was maybe i should hire some women, and, you know, started hiring some of the earliest full-time professional journalists, and so pulitzer put his stamp on a lot of different things, and, of course, we're sitting in a building that we owe to his legacy. >> yeah, in fact, we're -- i don't know if you know this, but we just announced a little historical detour so pulitzer made all of this money much to every's surprise. i want to enter this next because journalism, at that
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time, it was not widely known that journalism even was a commercial thing to do in life, and he, in about the early 1890s, he had the idea of starting a school of journalism in a university, and he came to columbia and started pitching them, and columbia turned him down on starting a school of jumpism. he was persistent. it took ten years to get columbia to take miss money in 1903. the gift agreement says the school shall be in a newly constructed building, and the building shall bear the name of the donor. pulitzer died in 1911. school opened in 1912, celebrating our sen ten yell,l@' opened in 20 # 13, and low and behold, it had the name journalism.
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there's skeplation about why that was. we rectified that, and if you saw the scaffold outside, those were guys carving his name above the doorway. as of april 20th, we'll be named the pulitzer building time. >> it's about time, i'd say. >> it was overdue. >> drat. >> you know, there's so many pieces in the book to talk about that we'll just scratch the surface, but i don't know if anybody here has seen the museum in washington, d.c. which is a monument to the last moment when the news business had enough resources to build things like that, and it has this stone tablet in front, three stories high, that makes the ten commandments look like a rough draft with the first amendment carved in it, sacred text of
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journalism so what was the founders -- what did they have in mind when they wrote the first amendment? what was journalism, what was the press eluding to? >> important question. i think it has a lot of bearing on what's going on today in journalism. journalism started off in the country in 170 # 4 as a very unimpressive kind of enterprise. the very first newspapers were very small, had circulations in the dozens and then in the low hundreds, and they were really intimidated by the other institutions in that society, especially church and state, and compared to them, these newspapers were not at all important, and, you know, very much under their thumbs, but what you see over the course of
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the decades is a process by which the newspapers become increasingly political in what they focus on, and they get to be bolder and bolder for reasons i go into in the book so that by the 1760s and certainly by 1770, they are in full throat expressing themselves on all kinds of the political issues of the day on independence from britain or recop -- reconciliation with the mother country on if we break, what government should we have? huge questions. the press becomes prelimical in the period. what people are reading are produced anonymously by people who don't want to be known as political partisan, and that's -- that's the nature of the press that the founders were familiar with.
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that press was very local. it was small scale. it was very -- most of the newspapers had little of what we think of as original reporting, you know, of nonfiction material that the staff generated. that was not really in the cards. as we see a return to a more style today in journalism, it's not something that's unanticipated or doesn't fit into this constitutional scheme. >> who invented reporters? >> oh -- [laughter] >> because we tend to think of reporters and journalists as synonyms, but that was not -- >> not at all. not at all, no, no, no. it was not until the 1830s, again, here in new york city, another really inventive journalist named benjamin day created the first so-called
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penny press newspaper, sold it for a penny a copy so he was going way down market trying to reach the broadest possible audience, and to do that, he needed to fill it up with surprising, amazing things every day, fires, news from the police stations, dockings of ships, anything like that that he could find, and he wore himself out trying to fill the paper, and show hired the first full-time reporter, a man named george wisner, who is regrettably obscure figure in american journalism history, but i'm going to try to do something about that. [laughter] >> when did journalism become a business? that is, the period you're describing in the colonial period, it doesn't sound like it was -- how did it support itself then? >> well, most of those newspapers were created by people who were really in another trade.
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that is, they were printers, and in order to keep their print shop busy, and in order to bring their customers into the shop to pick up their papers so that they could sell stationary on the side or sell them a book while they were in there, they -- they came -- they hit upon the idea of a newspaper as the perfect device. it expires every week and later every day once the pace picked up, and so most of those first enterprises were a sideline of someone who really would -- we would think of as a job printer, someone open to printing all kinds of stuff from anybody who had business, and them it's really in and around that revolutionary period, certainly the early federal period where we see the sideline disappears and the newspaper, itself, becomes the really focus. the first daily paper in the country is founded in 1783, and once the cities get to be a certain density and there's
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enough commerce, enough population, then in the early part of the 19th century, they get going, and they really take off in 1830s. >> so that's when it's fair to say for the first time that journalism is a business? >> oh, yes. it's clear by then, yeah. >> now, we, as much as people make fun of us for this, think of ourselves as a professional school, and so i have to ask -- >> more power to you. >> when did the notion of journalist as a professional, whatever that means, come on the scene? >> right, right. well, that is still contested terrain in the sense that -- >> you and i both remember going into journalism, guys in the news room who had not gone to college who were upset that the college kids were going into journalism. >> that's right. [laughter] yes, and you still hear that today once in awhile, you know, if you find the right kind of a perp, you can get a ballroom
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stool argument going over the necessity of journalism's instruction, but, you know, ncht, that apprentice model that you and i came across when we were starting out, has really been thrown overboard because almost no one in the news business any longer can afford to have someone on the payroll just for -- while they are getting instructed and learning the ropes so a lot of the training role of newspapers and news oriented magazines and such, has been exported and taken out of the news room, and the only -- i mean, the only other institution that could pick that up are the schools of journalism. >> so when -- the notion of the journalist as a sort of -- in his own mind exalted figure in society opposed to someone practicing a trade or craft, when do you first encounter that?
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>> i'd say mr. pulitzer had a role in that with a force of the series of arguments he wrote in the late 1890s about the necessity and the urgency really of training journalists because society was becoming more complicated, and the need was there for people who could understand, you know, the bigger government, the more complicated corporations, the whole changing scene. he described it as the journalists being someone comparable to the sailor on a ship -- >> the crown on the ship of states. >> right, who keeps an eye out for the shifting weather and danger that faces society. there's the question whether journalists need to go to school to learn other things and maybe learn economics or how to read chinese or something specific
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like that or do they need instruction in the mysteries of our trade? >> if you could, talk a limit the role of government in journalism, the conventional wisdom is, you know, the role of government journalism is stay away, the first amendment. is it useful to think about government as a direct or indirect subsidizer regulator in the past, now, maybe in the future? >> sure, well, that's a complicated and shifting relationship. you know, what i found, by looking at a topic over 300 years, some of these things reveal themselves in a way that a tinier slice wouldn't, and so i see a period in the early years where government was very helpful to the newspapers.
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one example, right after the post office the organized, the congress of the united states organized the post office to allow newspapers to exchange one copy with each other's newspaper for free. that would be carried at no cost through the postal service which allowed editors to swap and actually, like, borrow and lift from each other. it was a great way of filling up your newspaper for free in the early days, and, you know, also in the 18th century, early 19th century, a lot of state governments and the federal government did not have their own printing capacity so everything that they needed printed had to be jobbed out to a printer. this is one of the ways they kept those early newspapers afloat, the printer who was on the side of the party in party would get those contracts and would be the one who was authorized to print everything, early currencies, lottery tickets, the texts of laws, all of those things would be given
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as a political favorite to the editor on the right side. >> so, today, just to sort of get to the present before we go to our questions, there is a mood -- it varies from day-to-day, i suppose, some days it's panic; others, excitement, but there's generally a feeling that everything in journalism is changing very rapidly and very significantly. this whole conversation takes place about 98% without any historical perspective at all. since you have historical perspective, what's your view right now in journalism? >> wow. well, as i describe in the book in the final chapter about going digital, you know, i think what we are seeing now is the latest in a series of recurring, almost predictable crisis in american
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journal. i. it's one of these times when the business model gets out of whack with the prevailing philosophy of journalism, and we're going through a period of readjustment. i permly think this is 5 great time for american journalism. i didn't think that when i first started writing the book. it stook me eight years to write it, and aft the beginning i was thinking, oh, you know, i'll write the obituary of journalism because it was falling apart before my eyes, but now we ray seeing a -- we are seeing a rebirth of smaller, more independent, sometimes partisan journalism, and i think we're seeing, thanks to the digital world, almost a complete collapse of the what economists call the barriers to entry into our field. if you take, just for comparison, in the 1980s, with the launch of "usa today," it's
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estimated that that enterprise lost about a billion dollars before it made any money. the startup korsts and the years of losses, a billion dollars. that was probably the all-time high water mark for the cost of launching a journalistic enterprise. you know, today, some of your students could probably, you know, get a news website going by friday, and, you know, be posting -- >> they do. >> the cost of getting into the business have gone almost to the vanishing point, and i would also say our tools have never been better. the kinds of things that, you know, journalists do today with a small backpack full of equipment and some extra batteries, you know, it's almost unlimited the kinds of multimedia productions they can do, things that when you and i started out, you would have needed a truckload of equipment and specialists. you would have needed the disney studios to show up to produce
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the things our students do all the time. >> how will it be supported economically, or will it be more like the colonial period? >> well, you know, it's unclear. one of the things i say that i took away from my book is it's not natural, certainly not inevitable, that journalism be housed within big corporations. i think we can now see that was a historical period. it's now changing, but, you know, it was easy in the 20 #th century to think that was the natural state of things, and now, i'm not so sure. >> two things just i wanted to get your reaction actions to that i hear as i mostly travel around to panel discussions on journalism. one, imagine yourself at the jewish community center on the upper west side where i recently was. >> okay. >> the whole mood of the audience is why can't they just make the interpret --
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internet go away because there's all this misinformation out there, and there's nothing to combat it, and, oh, for the days of walter cronkite and only a very limited number of sort of very austere news voices. do you share that view, and how are we supposed to -- how would you respond to people who say, yikes, anybody can say anything, and people are being misled. >> right. well, i certainly recognize that point of view, and it's a common complaint, you know, where is the authority of the mainstream media? what's happened to the big institutions? well, you know, i think as a historian i have a certain amount of equity when i look at this because i think, you know, we're trained in history to always ask, well, when were the good old days, and what were so fabulous about that? we have limited access to
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information, and it was all one way. it was not a conversation. it was a nightly lecture, and they were not always right. that's, you know, that's another thing to keep in mind. i think there are better corrective mechanisms today, thanks to the internet, than there were during, you know, during the glory days. i think all of these things involve tradeoffs. there were great things about the middle and late 20th century, and things that honestly, we will not miss. >> now the opposite question. >> on the other hand -- >> the google-plex in mountain view, california, and somebody raised their hand in the audience, why do we need journalists at all? can you explain that? as long as you have good rules for publicly available data and good search algorythms,
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eliminate the middleman. how do you reply that to that? >> that's a view that's popular. a lot of my students feel that way. at boston university, our dean made arrangements with newspapers to have stacks of newspapers in our lobby every day, you know, dozens stackedded up there, and at the end of the day, the janitors come and take them away. no students will even stoop to pick one up. to them, it's an impediment, something in the way. [laughter] >> don't they have dogs? [laughter] >> don't they have dogs? [laughter] what i think is while the internet gives people tremendous ability to search and to be more active seekers of information and learners, i think there's still a really important job for the story teller to bring material together in a we that
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no one would find on their own. i mean, i was just looking at one thing the other day, fantastic project by the national film board of canada about a grizzly bear, a fantastic story, rich in multilayered kinds of technology, fascinating story, but a story that would not tell itself. it has to be -- someone has to have the idea, someone has to make that happen, stories just don't tell themselves, and i think stories, rather than data, is something that i think there will always be, you know, a tremendous interest in. >> i want to switch to audience in a sec, but i just, out of curiosity, you know, usually, when you work on a book for as long as you worked on this book, you encounter somebody you didn't even know about before who catches your interest and perhaps affection or perhaps hatred. i'm curious, who is in this book that you didn't know existed
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before when you started the book? >> wow. >> just a couple of examples. >> you know, there's quite a few actually. i was surprised as i did my research, and i'm typical with journalists in this that i hadn't had much schooling in this, you know, in the history of journalism, so i was surprised to discover, for instance, a journalist named lawrence gobright. fantastic name. who worked for the associated press in its early years, and he had the incredibly challenging job of covering washington for the associated press all through the 1850s and 1860 #s, and so he's in a predictment where he has to go cover congress and the courtses -- courts and everything and write a story that's acceptable to editors of all different political outlooks. some of those editors are strong wigs and becoming strong
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republicans. others are strong democrats. some are copperheads. they are all over the lot. they all have to be willing to accept his reporting, and so as he describes it, he has to make sure that his stories were as strictly factual as possible. this is a country, after all, that's literally coming apart. people will start shooting at each other at the end of the 1850s, and, you know, he said that was his great challenge and struggle, and he's the one who also, you know, stood through the war, stayed at his post, and he was there in april of 1865 when lincoln was shot. gobright hustled from the hotel across the street from the theater over to the telegraph office, and spread the news while the president was still waiverring between life and death. he wrote this classic, hard news, summary-style beginning of
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a story. the president was shot in a theater tonight and perhaps mortally wounded. >> good lead. >> in 12 words, encapsulated. it was someone i was certainly not aware of, and, yet, played a very big part. he also, in doing that, was helping to define a kind of politically neutral journalism that was -- it was, indeed, a new thing, and became the hallmark of the associated press and became one of the things that the ap took in in all their new recruits, how to write in a way that was politically neutral, shall we say? >> one last question from me, and i hope you are all thinking of questions because i'll switch over. when you and i started out and for some years thereafter, i guess the -- as i look back on it, we had a sort of med view of
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journalism, and if you look at a working journalist, who do we count on to ensure our fields' continued good health is, well, there's these wonderful dynasties that are very, you know, public spirited in patrician and value news over profits, and we'll always be saying this. as i work back, and as you came into the air space and proposed, and not only that, but patrician public spirited doctors provide health care out of the goodness of the heart, and that argument for journalism. now the families are out of the business or very stressed so if you had to ask the question who will be responsible for the sort of institutional and economic
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health of our field going forward? what's the answer? >> wow. well, i guess, you know, the glib answer would be i don't know, and i don't have to because, you know, i'm presenting myself here as a historian, not as a futureolgist. i emphasize i don't know the future. it's hard enough to learn the past. people have long been involved in journalism for non-economic reasons. there may be a reward for them in esteem or some other cause in mind, and we just saw the other day that the new republic, you know, of esteemed institution in american journalism was just bought by a young internet -- >> to my son. [laughter]
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>> this new buyer is a smart enough business person to know this is not a money-making venture. owning the new republic is not going to add to his, you know, pile of wealth, but it is something that people have often decided to take a flier on, and may there always be more of them. >> let's go to audience questions now, and we have two microphones set up, and if you can ask your questions from the microphones, then all generations from here forward can hear the question, and not just us. are you willing to do that? >> can they travel and brought to people? that might help. might move things along. >> following up on the last question, i think a lot of us are concerned that as newspapers
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get economically weaker, the people who are buying them are buying them not for economic reasons, but for hard right or hard left political reasons, and is that a valid concern that newspapers will become political instruments again solely? >> sure. that's an important question. i think it is connected to the question of the business model. there was a period, i think, during the -- it's most clear in the 20th century when you had institutions like the three television networks that had news divisions. their goal was to reach 100% of the audience actually, and to put the other two out of business. they were like the big three automakers. they wanted to sell to everybody. they were trying to have a universal appeal. that makes sense if you have a
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huge enterprise with a lot of capital invested in it. of course, you want to max out. i think in the new economics of presenting material online, you can be successful by your own, you know, with your own economic terms. you can have your own audience, a niche audience, not trying to bring in the big center, but you can make money and make a name for yourself working the corners of the room pulling that audience apart, and i think we may go through a period where there's more polarization. that's not the first. that's one of the things found in the research is that the country has been divided before, and may well be divided again, but i don't think we should shoot the message over that, and i don't think we should dispair. there's a lot of things that, you know, will keep the country going. >> if i could just add, first of
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all, as chris noted, there's always been politician publishers. agreeley was publisher of the tribune in 1972, for example, and the conventional wisdom, the information we had coming up in the world. when we were coming up in the world and when a company would buy a newspaper from one of these dynasty-type families, we would be very, very upset, and we'd say, the newspaper's passed into the hands of people who only think of it as a business. now these companies are getting out selling to people who we think have political motivation, and we say, oh, for the days it was owned by companies and not politicians. all of these strands run through the whole history of the field.
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>> other questions, yeah, shelly? >> this is so interesting. tom brokaw wrote about the greatest generation, and i was wondering if you have an opinion is there a greatest generation of journalists? >> oh, wow. what struck me in writing this book, and it's funny you bring it up in that way about the greatest generation because i would say that the journalism done in world war ii was phenomenally powerful, eloquent, important. there could probably have been no more important time with, you know, so much conflict in the world, so much at stake, and, you know, i was very surprised to see that a press corp., especially from the united states which had really, not very much experience to draw on,
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and most of that world war ii cohort like ernie pyle, martha gailhorn, a lot of the folks had little experience as war correspondents, some as reporterrers, but not covering the war. it was all new. i was really, really impressed with the quality and the beauty, indeed, of some of the things they wrote. ernie pyle, you know, to me, had been a cartoon character, you know, the journalist in the fox hole, but, you know, some of the things he wrote, i'd love to share -- >> yeah, that'd be great. >> let's see if i can put my finger on a passage here that i think really evokes his finest work, and it was the capped of thing he wrote that, you know,
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got people in the service at that time. some of the soldiers would send letters back home to their family and say, you know, i'm not going to bother sending you more letters. if you want to know what the war is like, read ernie pyle because it's all there in his columns. yes, this is from a piece he wrote in very early 1944 in the italian campaign, pyle was right with the leading edge of the u.s. troops as they battled up the italian peninsula, and this ran for the scripts howard news service in hundreds and hundreds of daily newspapers, and thousands of weekly newspapers around the country. january 1944 under the heading, this one is captain wascow. this is part of it. he said dead men had been coming
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down the mountain all evening, latched on to the backs of mules. they came lying belly down across the wooden pack saddle. first came early in the morning, slid him down from the mule. then a soldier came into the shed saying there's more bodies outside. we went out into the road. four fuels stood there in the moonlight in the trail that came down the mountain. the soldiers that led them were waiting. this is captain wascow one said quickly. the mules moved off to the olive grove. the men in the road, reluctant to leave, stood around, and gradually, i sensed them moving one by one, close to the captain's body. not so much to look, i think, as to say something in finality to him and to themselves. i stood close by, and i could
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hear. one soldier came down, looked down and said out laud, "god dammit," and another said, "god dammit to hell anyway," and he looked down for a few last moments and turned and left. the first man squatted down and reached down and took the captain's hand, and he sat there for a full five minutes holding the dead hand in his own, and looking intently into the dead face, and he never uttered a sound all the time he sat there. finally, he put the hand down, he reached up, and gently straightened the points of the captain's shirt collar, and then he rearranged the tattered edges of his uniform around the wound, and then he got up and walked away down the road in the moonlight all alone.
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incredible -- a little miniature masterpiece of restraint, of observation, and all of this while, you know, battle is surging around him. pyle has the presence of mind to notice this very special, quiet moment, almost like a mother, you know, fixing the shirt collar of the dead soldier. incredible. >> oh, excuse me. you talked about objectivity. >> uh-huh. >> and that the growth of the birth really of objectivity in the 1840, 1830s? >> 1850s the associated press gets that idea, started -- it's a long path from there, yeah. >> yeah. one of the -- one of the striking features, i think, about the american democracy that they have talked about is the kind of conformism, how
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people come upon -- after a little period of confusion, people come upon a narrative that fits and tend to stick with that narrative, and, you know, when i was a journalist, i noticed that happening too, that people would find something they seemed to make sense, and if somebody else came up with an idea, tended to be looked at ascant at. my question is do you have any idea whether -- in this modern world we're now living in and moving into, including a world of journalism schools and graduates as journalists, this tendency -- less of a tendency to the conformism or more or is it still the same? >> oh, well, you know, i think in line with what i was saying earlier, we're seeing now, i think, an explosion of new,
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independent, original, you know, voices on the internet, certainly where, you know, there are hardly any editors, bosses, or censors. so much of the journalism that we're familiar with from the 21st century was based on that idea of mass marketing, mass circulation, and so there was a tendency to, you know, to be conformists only in the sense that you were seeking a lowest common denominator. i think a lot of news institutions were trying to do the equivalent of building a chevy. they wanted to build something that most people would like and feel comfortable with, and so it's that drive to satisfy most people that i think, you know, tend to rule october certain points of view, and now, without
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the imperative to bring most people into your business, who is to say? you know, i think we may be seeing a period now where many, many more things are possible. >> i don't know if you saw the cover story in the "new republic," by paul starr, a sociologist from princeton, replacing mass audiences, something pressure precious is lost in american democracy because the act of bringing large numbers of people together around sort of chevrolet-like news products is, itself, democracy enhancing because otherwise goes off in the corner. do you buy that argument? >> i would be careful. just, you know, again wondering when were those good old days? in 1923, in new york city, there
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were 17 english range newspapers. 17 different newspapers. that's including a.m. and p.m.. people were not all reading the same thing. they were in a segmented market to be sure, and that's not even counting the weeklies and the foreign language newspapers and the union papers and political party papers. there was a pulling apart statement as there was this effort to, you know, have a common conversation. that's a tension that's built in. >> just to interject, one of the things that's counterintuitive today is through the 20th century, newspaper circulation went straight down, and it was not because individual newspapers were losing circulation, but because so many newspapers were going out of
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business, and every big city had many dailies at the start of the 20th century, and usually one or two dailies at the end of the 20th century. >> exactly right. they became local monopolies, and they did not get better as a result. they were as good as the publisher felt like paying for. >> i think we have another question from keith. she's bringing him the microphone. >> future question, but you've answered it as a historian. >> okay, i'll do my best. >> all right, so the united states has had a free and open press by and large for a long time, and it's been a successful country. a lot of people, that's a correlation. people attribute causality to the correlation, and they could be right, but at the same time,
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in current times, take the example of china or singapore, but let's take china. >> uh-huh, right. there is on the economic side a controlled economy that's apparent hi being very successful in these times, and there's the argument that the free-for-all capitalism, not really that way, but to the extent it is in the united states might not be able to compete against a well-planned economy, but at the same time, the chinese control information as tightly as they can. >> right. >> they would argue that they do argue that allowing unlimited numbers of of american idol type shows will in the help them and a lot of other things don't help them if they let it out. this country is also controlling information. as a historian, do you think the chinese or on to something, suicidal, or somewhere in between? >> oh, wow. one of the privileges i have in the teaching i do at boston
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university, is i work with the new group of graduate students that arrive every september, and i work with the ones coming from other countries, and in recent years, more and more students are from china i have a great privilege of teaching chinese students, and i learn a lot from them. what i notice is that where americans are concerned about issues such as liberty and their personal freedoms, many of the chinese students are more concerned about issues like order. an order in that society is something that they, you know, they think about as a problem or something that their news media are going to either, you know, improve or threaten. , now, i don't know a single young american who thinks about order as a problem in american
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society, and so they are coming at it from very, very different points of view, and i think that the chinese have a system of news media that's linked very much to their own history, their own experience, their own culture. now, having said that, they are also connected to a world economy, and they are moving and changing. their institutions are developing in a chinese way, but i think, you know, in a direction that will probably eventually undermind that kind of control that you're talking about. i don't see that technology is going to ultimately favor a command economy. >> question over here. >> but, you know, what do i know about the future. that's a wide open area.
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yes? >> i have another question in regards to the future. of course, you take a paper like the new "new york times," therea article about how the economic recovery is not affecting the rest of the economy. imagine a world without the "new york times". how are we going to get the resources to cover comp kateed stories. any time i want to know about something, like, for example, the shooting in florida. there was an exhawsive story on that yesterday. that's my question for you, thank you. >> right, right. well, let me start with a tip of the hat to the "new york times" which has, you know, since the purchase of the people in 1896 by the patriarch of the current ownership family, adolf oaks, the family did a tremendous public service to the country by
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investing in the resources of the newspaper, staff, equipment, all of these things, foreign bureaus, all of the most expensive things that you can ask of a journalistic enterprise. i wish them well. i would say this, if you talked to an intelligent, well-educated, prosperous american in the late 1950s, they would have said, well, what do they rely on? they relied op cbs radio. they relied on "life" magazine, "the saturday evening post," and they loved the "new york herald tribune". they loved them. all of those have completely vanished, and, yet, others, you know, took up the slack and made those investments and did that
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hard work. you know, i think we have to be, you know, we have to treasure these institutions and celebrate them, but we can't expect that they will always remain forever up changed. that's what i'll venture to say about the future is that it'll be a little bit different. [laughter] >> more questions? yes? >> chris, could you talk a light about the journalistic -- i teach as a librarian, and i teach information literacy. >> right. >> my students and my children and their friends tell me they get news from john stewart and twitter which i really don't understand, but could you talk about the history of parody in
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journalism? >> uh-huh. great, wonderful subject. you know, there have been lampoons, satires, hoaxes going way, way back. in fact, one of the discovers i made in doing the research in the book was the amount of satire and fantastic degree of indirection in the journalism of the 18th century. when we read newspapers from ben frapping -- franklin's time, and his own newspaper is a great example. a tremendous amount of the material is not straightforward, candid, and it's certainly not objective reporting. most is ?arky and very -- it's very funny when you understand all of the context and get all of the references, but most of
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it was meant to make a political point or make a point at the expense of their journalistic rivals, and almost as soon as you have two newspaper towns, the first being boston by the 1720s there's competition, and one of the first things those newspapers do is start to mock each other, and they be little the editor of the other paper. >> that'd never happen today. [laughter] >> so, you know, it is a great tradition. i would like to see, you know more of it. i think john stewart does a fantastic job of commenting on the news, and the staff does an amazing job of finding video to make the points. it's a tremendous public service. i'm so glad it's there, but i,
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you know, i think the spirit of satire, you know, has been loose in the loond -- land for a long time, and it's a very important way to bring powerful people and institutions down a bit. >> chris, final thoughts? >> well, i'm tremendously pleased, you know, that everyone who is here managed to make, and i really do appreciate it, and what i guess i would say is that i would welcome anybody's who's not familiar with the material to pling in -- plunge in and find unexpected treasures along the way as i did. i found this incredibly gratifying and stimulating to me, you know, professionally and all of that, but the best part, the biggest payoff is discovering the wonderful work that people had been doing for
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centuries before i started wising up to how good that was, and so i would say please enjoy the book, discover these people, and go plunge their work and turn and get to know them better. >> thanks a lot. congratulations on the book. thanks, everyone for coming. [applause] >> because the idea of reform and opening was yet not unique to deng xiaoping and who criticized his successor who was chose p to -- chose to be the success sore, not a strong leader, was in favor of the reforms, and a lot of the senior officials were in favor of the reforms. to some extent, he had a very long time perspective.
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whether "visionary's" the right word, but when he thought about hong kong he said for 50 years they can keep the present system. if you ask obama, you know, what do you plan to do in the next 50 years for the country, that's hardly a serious question. i mean, no american leader can, you know, four years is long term. [laughter] to think to the end of the term until the next election, and so i think he did have a long term perspective. at the same time, he was experimental, and he didn't have fixed notions, and he used the expression "cross the river by groping for stones," and, again, that term was attributed to deng, but it was not unique to him. he used the terms. he used the ideas. he was the manager who put it together and provided the direction with the firm hand that made it all happen.
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watch the entire interview with vogel tonight at 8 eastern here on c-span2. >> what are you reading this summer? booktv wants to know. >> there's two wonderful books about where the taliban and al-qaeda are now. seth jones is working on one, and david marinas is working on another biography at this time, and there are lots of great books that have come out every year by serious journalists/historians worth reading. walter isakson's book on steve jobs is a perfect example of that, a best selling international phenomena with good reasons because of everything we could learn from it. >> what are you currently reading? >> a lot of things. i read a wonderful book written
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by a british fly fisherman about his father in world war ii. i loved that. i'm reading about the 48 campaign which if you think this is wild, that was really wild. the first election after the war. i study about anderson and the book about george bush and how he decided to go to war. my wife finished cat rain the great, given to me, but she picked it off. i have 20 go back and get involved in that. i read a lot of magazine stuff, a lot of essays. i read a -- actually, i opened up a little correspondence with a poet by the name of david hall what he wrote in "the new yorker," and that spoke to me in a way. we had an exchange, and that was gratifying. i'm in awe of great writers. i don't pretend to be a great writer. i'm pretty good sometimes, but a great writer moves me in ways
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nothing else in life does. >> for more information on this and other summer reading lists, visit booktv.org. "the chicago tribune". >> thank you. [applause] good afternoon, everybody. is this on? okay. um, so it gives me great pleasure to say hello to you at lit fest today and to be on stage here with a terrific writer, journalist and man who also happens to be a good friend
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of mine, wenguang. as i said, he's a reporter and writer and journalist who has been doing national and international reporting, let's say since 1990, i think it's fair to say? >> yeah. >> he is now writing besides the book that we're going to talk about today, he's now writing for "fortune" magazine, he writes for "the new york times," christian science monitor. he's also written for printers row journal which some of you may be aware of that is part of a membership program that we have at "the chicago tribune." and he is a translator of several works. he's worked with the author of the corpse walker, and wen translated that here, and i think the other is "god is red." >> yeah. >> which is about christianity in china, in today's china. we're here to talk today about
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"little red guard." and "little red guard" is a memoir by wen. it's been reviewed very positively in not only "the chicago tribune", but in the new yorker, in "the new york times" and, i believe, that this weekend a review is coming out in "the washington post." do i have that right? >> yeah. >> so, um, thanks for coming and, again, it's a privilege to be here with wen and hear him talk about this book that has been greeted with such acclaim. so welcome, wen. >> thank you. [applause] thank you very much for coming. [applause] >> i'd like to start off by talking about the kind of coming off of the introduction, um, done a lot of journalism in your career. you are a reporter, a translator of nonfiction, you've done some translating and written and done books for that, but your first book you chose to be a memoir rather than a piece of
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reportage. why was that decision made? >> i think this has lots to do with the immigrant experience. as some of you are my friends here today know that i came to chicago in 1990 acting like most immigrants who first arrived in this country, and you try to get yourself assimilated, and you try to be just like any other americans. and for the first ten years i was here, i work as a journalist. you feel very comfortable interviewing other people about their life stories and about their life in chicago, and i tried very hard to be a good american. and i felt like i tried very hard to overcome my chinese accept, i -- accept, i tried to imitate npr. [laughter] i didn't want even go to china town because it was related too much to my past. you know, all these efforts to forget about your past and then try to start a new life here. and after about 15 years i felt
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like i'd been very successfully career wise or life, i have a house here in chicago, i felt like each time i come to chicago, i feel very much at home. but when there is a certain stage where you feel like you are assimilated, but on the other hand, the past keeps coming back to me. and i'm sure a lot of people who have gone through the same experience will have similar feeling that the first part of your life, i came here when i was 25. and the past started to come back, i started to wrestle with the questions about my grandmother who raised me when i was a little boy and about my parents, my mom and father especially. i had a difficult relationship with my father for years. there was a certain tension. i felt like he was too old-fashioned, and i always
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wanted to be somebody completely different from him. i strove very hard to do that. and then when you reach a certain age, you get -- you're looking back, you say, wow, there is that genetic factor that i can't really be somebody else different. even i started to talk like him, and i start to -- you look at yourself in the mirror, people say, wow, i just look like my father. so at this point, you know, and then i felt very strongly that i had to write something about it. and also i've noticed that while writing the memoir is that you have a story, and you want to write about it. i thought about this for years, but then it has to be sometimes like stating your mind, letting it ferment for a while. sometimes you have to remain ferments to reach the certain pungent and spicy flavor. and it took me years, i've been thinking about this, these stories for a long time, and sometimes i talk with other
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journalists. they would talk about birthdays. oh, when i was young, i had a birthday, we use a hard boiled egg. they loved the stories, they say, oh, you should write something about it. but you always wait, wait until two years ago i felt like i was ready. and i was laid off from a corporate job that i worked for. i said, i'll have the one year to work about it, to work on the book. and then when it's ready, it came out very quickly. it was very hard to find the structure. and once i found the structure, it took me a month and a half, it just poured out. and then i kept revising it. and that was the reason -- it was a lot of of uncomfortable moments, like you talk about the inner journalist and writing about your own. it's great to hear other people tell their stories, you know, you feel detached, jot down and write good stories. when it came to my own, it was very hard because when i decide to write about it, it's a lot of uncomfortable moments about my
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relationship with my grandma, with my mother and my father and all the memories started come out. and for about two to three weeks, i couldn't sleep until sometimes before i went to bed, i would say, oh, i need to go to bed early, and i'd start to think about what to put in the book. and the past came up, and the next thing i knew it was 5:00 in the morning or 6:00 in the morning. it was very painful. but once everything came out, i tried to find a structure. once that was done, it's very therapeutic. >> so let's talk about the structure. "little red guard" refers to children in communist china when the time wen was growing up, the time of chairman mao. they were the students who were considered the defenders of the revolution and the defenders of mao's principles, kind of like the pioneers in the soviet union that kind of inculcated the ideology into the young. but the conceit or the
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structure, let's say, that runs throughout the book is about wen's grandmother and her fear of death and her insistence that she be buried in the old ways with the old traditions rather than cremated which was what the communist authorities had demanded all people do during that time. and so the conceit is the tension in the household between the grandmother and the father and wen's mother and how that played out for wen. so when you talk about the structure, you're talking about using that, your grandmother's fears about death and desires about death and the coffin as the through line, is that right? >> right. >> do you want to talk a little bit ant how you came upon -- about how you came upon that? >> great. when i first start thinking about writing the book, there was so many stories that were floating around. and i couldn't find out way to put them in a proper structure. and one day i was walking, and
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then i suddenly thought my grandma's coffin, because for years and years i thought i'd forgotten about it, but it just kept coming up. it was when my grandma, when she was 73, and she suddenly became obsessed with death. and then she just, she was very healthy, but there was a chinese saying, saying that 73 and 84 are the two thresholds, that a lot of people die during these two years. she just suddenly told my father she wanted to be ready, and she wanted a grand sendoff. she wanted a coffin, and she wanted to have a barrel. and my father was a communist party member. of course, he was very torn because if this had been this country, it wouldn't be very difficult. but in china even now a burial in major cities is banned because of practical reasons, of course, you don't have enough space. and the other one is for
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ideological reasons. during the 1970s all the coffins associated with all the bad things about the past, the traditions were considered not revolutionary enough. so that, that whole coffin caused so much tension, and my father spend the next 17 years preparing for the coffin. and we, the whole family was impacted. so when i hit upon this, i said maybe i should use this coffin to start out and then string everything about china around this how we prepared this coffin and give people an idea of what china was like in the '70s, '80s and even now. so once i found the structure, it came very easily. so throughout the whole thing i use the coffin as a metaphor for what's, what was china then and what is china now. i would just use a very simple one talking about in the old days coffin was this black,
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sinister thing, and everybody, you have to be hided away from the public, and my family used to put it in my bedroom, would cover it up with a different table cloth or with a newspaper so people wouldn't see. and everything build. if you got caught and then they would, my father could have lost his job, and all the punishment. but nowadays coffin suddenly becomes a very auspicious symbol because coffin, the chinese word also rhymes with the word fortune and promotions. so sometimes everybody in china today in their relentless pursuit of money, material wealth right now, we're going through all capitalistic. and the coffin suddenly becomes this very auspicious thing. i heard that sometimes if you give a gift to somebody, government official be, you just give them a little miniature coffin.
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they put it on your, they put it on their desk. [laughter] it's a reminder of their fortune and upcoming promotion. [laughter] >> so if you have a meeting with mayor emanuel, don't follow that. [laughter] >> that's why we were joking when the original title of my book was called "coffin keeper." and i thought it would be great for the chinese readers when they read "the coffin keeper" is such an auspicious thing if you give someone a copy. but my publisher said, well, it's kind of a little different here. if people buy a book for christmas or for father's day or mother's day, by the way, here is a copy of "the coffin keeper." [laughter] so we decided to change it to "the little red guard," even though people could miscon true it as -- misconstrue it as a political book. even though it's about my family
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all the way through to the present. so that's how the structure came about. >> i'm going to digress and talk about the corpse walker, and if you could just give a quick synopsis, because i think it's a fascinating book and a fascinating story. it's called the corpse walker, and wen translated it here. what is a corpse walker? >> a corpse walker is another chinese traditional practice, also actually related to the book. in china people believe that if you, you are worn in aville -- born in a village or born in a city, and no matter how far away you wander around the world, when you die, you have to be back in the village, you have to be buried just like my grandma, even though she left home when she was young, they moved to a different city, they were there for years and years. but when they die, when you die, you have to come back because there's a chinese saying that all fallen leaves have to return to their roots. so in china in the old days when
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the business people, when they would go to business in other parts of the country and they would die suddenly, and for the rich people, wealthy people, if you could afford it, you'd hire these people because there was no cars or airplanes to transport these bodies back. so those wealthy people, they would go and hire these kung fu masters. they would go to the certain place where the person died. and then it's normally in the fall and winter time, so they would inject some of the mercury into the nose so they won't prevent decay, and then one person will carry the dead body and then cover it up with a black robe. the other person would be the guy to rotate, and it would take, like, a week or 20 days for the person to carry the person all the way back to the village. because otherwise they said you will be a wandering ghost.
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you could never be reunited with your family in the rest of the life. so this is what the whole book was talking about. one of the stories in the book i translated is about during the transition period when the communists took over china in 1949 during the transition period when the old and new, the new society and the old traditions, how they clashed. but in my book is my grandmother was even though we didn't have to hire a corpse walker to walk her home, but we prepared several ways in case she died f she died in the summer -- if she died in the summer, my dad would have bribed some people on the railroad who worked there, and we would cover her up because it was a seven-hour train ride. we'd have to take her home. if it being in the winter time, we would have a truck driver try to take her home. it took years and years to build this network so we could, in case anything happened to
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grandma. and we would take her home. but then those who have not read the book, i won't tell something. and then throughout the whole process it took a huge toll on our family life. and even now as the eldest son, i was supposed to, if my father pass away, i was supposed to carry around the -- my grand ma still, she's still buried near my hometown, but not her native town because the changes going on in china is like you cannot even go back to china because change is taking place so fast, and all the cemeteries are being totally demolished. so that's the sad part of china today. >> so that tension that that caused and grand ma's wish -- grandma's wishes caused within the family, what i find so remarkable and compelling about the book is how that's set within the tension of a family going through the changes in china at the time. and so that conflict between the
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old-fashioned rules and the old-fashioned ways and what -- and the modern ways whether they were communist or just the modern world is a central part of the book. and i just wanted to ask you, did you, did you see that when you started writing it? did you see that, how that vehicle could work to talk about china as well as your family, or is that something that came to you as you were writing it? >> i saw part of it before i started. because when i started the book, i realized that i wanted to make a family book. and we have seen a lot of the books right now, for example, the writer wrote about the families, about the political drama during the cultural revolution. but her family and probably lots of others who had written about how the parents, they were persecuted during the cultural revolution, they represent only a small minority of the people who are directly impacted by the
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cultural revolution. but most of the people, like my family, they were -- we were just ordinary families. we went to the meetings, and then we shouted the revolutionary slogans. but our families were not directly impacted. but i want to use this cultural revolution is always, the changes in china after mao and during the mao era to use as the background to talk about a universal theme of our relationship with our participants. because when i -- with our parents. during the past 20 years i've been here, i talk with lots of friends, we seem to face the same questions. you have the guilt about your mother, you know, i sometimes would tell stories about my mother, and people always laugh because they say, oh, it's just like my mother. and like my mother was here visiting, and then i got this house, i would show off my house, oh, mom, how do you like it? my mom went in and said, it's okay. you just need -- you know. people would say, your mother
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sounds like my jewish mother. [laughter] the relationship with a mother. and then with my father i talk with people, you always have the tension when you were young, your father was just this horrible figure, and you reach a certain age, you just think your father is so old-fashioned, and you have the tension when i was kid, when i was growing up. and then you wonder how you resolve it when you reach a certain age. so i try to focus on this so i can get more of a universal feeling. but the political background is always there. the most important thing i want to use this book as a way to help people understand china. because the chinese not always a, the cultural revolution is not everybody's parent that got beaten up. because most ordinary people, you live the life, the ordinary things, and you do ordinary things. but then during this family tension, that's how you survive.
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no matter what the revolution is trying to do or what mao tried to eradicate, the family or the traditions, they are always there. you can never eradicate it because people like my parents, they were at work shouting slogans and saying we were going to -- [inaudible] society, and turn around, and the kids, they just life continues as always. >> so that relationship with your father, there is, there are a couple of points in the book where you are that kind of mark twain experience where your father got a lot smarter between your ages of 17 and 21, right? >> right. >> and i think one of them is your father was cautioning that during the political changes when there was, there were glimpses of openness from the communist authorities, your father was cautioning you not to jump in. and i think the translation was something like the first bullet hits the head of the flock or something like that. >> right. >> so talk a little bit about that, how you changed your view
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of your father during the writing of the book. >> yes. that, actually, when, during the writing of the book my views toward my father, including my grandmother and mother, changed dramatically. that's something i really didn't expect. it's like a therapy session. when you walk in there, you have one set of views, and by the time the book ended, i just totally saw things differently. like originally i saw, when i was trying to write the book, i just saw my father as a very tragic figure because he was a government official, very educated. a cultural official, and because he offended his boss, he was not connected with any political campaign, but the communist party officials, they asked people to say could you, please, propose some ways how could you improve my work, my dad just said the party official act like
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a dictator. and because of that one day my grandma became sick, and he went back to take care of my grandmother, and then they immediately used the excuse that he placed the family above revolutionary work. that was big, considered a very sack ri lishes during the revolutionary years. and then he was fired. and then for three years he didn't have a job. and later on he had to start as laborer. by the time i was born, he was a warehouse manager. i always felt like he was so cautious. i tried to be -- i was little red guard, i was very progressive, i was a firm believer of communism, but, you know, he was a party member. i would assume he always supported me, but the time i tried to go to the extreme, he would always bring me back to say, no, don't go too much, you have to hard. politics always very frivolous, very fickle. and i never understood what he
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meant. and until years later when i started to know about his life, i just realized his whole generation we call it spiritually castrated because those people, they were the ones who suffered so much because sometimes you just said something wrong, or you could end up in jail or just because there was a lot of stories about people that went to the bathroom, and then they accidentally use a newspaper to wipe their bottom, and then on the back of the newspaper was chairman mao's portrait. and then the neighbor found out, and the person end up in jail for a year. you know, you live in that constant vibe. that's why i could -- environment. that's why i could understand why my father was like that. for years it was a very contra contradicting, like, my father at work, he was a model communist party member. he said all the right things. and then at home he would teach me a different set of principles, very confusion. say you have to be faithful to
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your grandma, and you have to work hard no matter what the political circumstances are. your knowledge will be always useful. so i always felt very torn. and i felt like he was such a weak and incompetent worker, or as a father. but during the writing process the more i started to read into it, i talked with a lot of people, went back to china, and i felt like lots of stuff he actually is guiding me. you know, as i grow older, sometimes the decision i make i actually thought, yeah, there is something about my father, he's always there. and then the stuff he said, i saw the understanding more better. so that's about my father. and also with my mother. i -- she was very, um, tough with me, harsh with me when i was a kid because i was raised by my grandmother. she was seldom home because she wanted to be a revolutionary. she went to work one month later
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after i was born, she went to work, and i was wholly in the care of my grandmother. it was very bad the take care of their children rather than go to work. so she did that. and when i was 9 years old, she came back, moved back, and sometimes she would beat me up, corporate punishment. sometimes when i thought about the way she treated me, i felt very bitter about it. but in later years she tried to make up with me but it was very hard because the formative years she wasn't there. and i have this thing, and then the more i wrote about her and my views about my mother changed because i had realized that since my grandmother had such a stronghold over me and over my father, too, my father probably never -- she never had a proper relationship with her son. she tried very hard to get back, get back to me, but i couldn't -- i think there was the bitterness. and i felt like, you know, i start to understand my mother more and more. and the same with my
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grandmother. she raised me, and then she was my surrogate mother. but then you start examine the relationship with my father, her relationship with my father and my mother, and you get a more complex picture. and i just realized my grandmother, she probably -- she lost her husband when she was young, and she raised my father single-handedly. emotionally, she controlled my father. my father probably was never able to love my mother as much because his mother had such a strong influence over him. and also imagine -- and then when i was born, and she had such control over me. and probably because she, her own need to protect herself and didn't give my mom too much to have. that was the -- so i was analyzing the those three things, and i started to have, at the end of the book i felt have a more different perception or different understanding of the three of these key characters in the book.
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>> and the kind of psychological and emotional tensions among the characters in the book, you know, grandmother, father and mother, are plays outside not only in family, but in society. there's this underlying kind of tension between the old ways and the new ways, of course. but the degree to which superstition and old traditions kind of persist during that time i found to be remarkable. i think anybody who reads it, you know, we're talking here in the 1970s and some of the things that are still being accepted as truths in the village which are clearly folklore or superstition, and your grandmother and your mother were at odds in that area. so, um, kind of looking back on that where do you see that? you were fighting those superstitions yourself, but later you kind of sought refuge
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in them a little bit. >> right. you know, when we were kids, probably most people who grow up in china, you will be one of the things that's very annoying but also very fascinating about china is with every weddings, with funerals, and there's all kinds of different rituals. there's a combination of buddhist practices, tooist practices. -- taoist practices. for example, during my father's funeral, and as the eldest son what you do is when -- you cannot cry too loud because you cannot allow the tears to fall on the body of the dead. because if they carry your tears, they'll be sad for the rest of their afterlife. and then the day of the funeral, so i have to go there, and they have a big vessel, and it contains all the ashes people pour in the fake paper money, and you have to smash it, smash it. when you smash the urn in this
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way, it means like his next life can be the body of this life died or shattered, so he can be reincarnated into another cycle of life. so, and then when you're on your way to the funeral house, you have to keep spreading these paper, fake paper money because you are trying to describe the ghosts. so they don't -- they block your dad's way into heaven or the other world. sometimes they're kind of a reflection of the current world. everywhere in china now you have to bribe somebody. you have to bribe the ghosts so that they can have transitions very smoothly. [laughter] and even with weddings. and then the day and when the groom comes to pick up the bride, they have to bow to the parents, and then they have to
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bring gifts like five pounds of pork, the meat, because you are taking the daughter away. it's like taking a piece of flesh from the mother, and you bring that. and you bring some cigarettes or liquor, even though my dad -- they never smoked cigarettes, but it shows you were willing to spend the money, and you are not cheap with the dollar. you know, all these different rituals. and then you have to go up there and hang up the red curtain meaning, like, your life will be for auspicious. and then the night before they sleep, you have to, you put a lot of peanuts and walnuts underneath the bed meaning like when you gave birth, and you won't just have boys or girls all the way through, you have a variety of boys and girls. all these different rituals and traditions i always find they're just so burdensome. [laughter] and during my dad's funeral, i actually acted very badly. it was just, it was so
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ridiculous because the night before we have to, i have to wear this white linen and led a group of -- let a group of people in the neighborhood carry my dad's picture. and you have to howl and cry so loudly, people think that you really love your dad so much. imagine you're 20 years old, you great from a university, you think you can do anything, you are so full of yourself, and then you are carrying this way, walking around the neighborhood, everybody could see you. so that part i ri zest a -- resist a lot. oh, you go to china, everybody you ask about that it's very common. but then when i was doing years later and then you find out you reach the mellow aim, i started to -- age, i started to understand why we have those rituals. and sometimes it's actually not doing for the dead, but for the living. i found i guess because we're living we feel so helpless, and you just feel like if you do
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something, and it makes you feel better. like i wrote in the printers row about my father when the book came out, and i felt very relieved, and be i said maybe this will be, do some justice to my father because for years i, during his -- those who have read the book, you probably know -- during his funeral, and then they asked me to say something about him, i just thought he had such a trivial life, i just didn't felt like there was anything worth saying. i just went there, and i just bowed and then left the stage. and for years my mother gave me such a hard time and just would never forget my shame. always say, oh, so and so, the person had never been to college, but he delivered such a great eulogy and made everybody cry. and somebody who never, never been to college, she sang a song that was her dad's favorite song. does that sound like all mothers? and it just killed me. but i felt, you know, the guilt
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my mother put in me, and then i after the book came out and i decided to do something that probably i would never have done many years before. so i took the book to my, i went back to china and visit my parents, their tombs. and i went there, and i actually burn the book because, as a way to pay tribute to my dad. because my sister said, oh, if you burn the book because your father will be able to read it. for the details, you can read the printers row article, but i'm just giving you this idea. and then -- >> you have to subscribe though. [laughter] >> and, but for this ritual, when i finished that, i thought it was very -- sometimes i want to smile be. i felt very ridiculous. you would take a whole trip back just to burn the book and say something to my mother. but on the other hand, i found it very soothing. i felt, because there was nothing i could do to make up
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for what i didn't do, the guilt. and then you create these rituals, i guess i did it, i felt like, oh, finally, i was able to pay my dad off and was able to do something. so that's whole transformation. i got a better understanding about why superstition, all these rituals. i'm sure is we have the same thing in this country when we do certain things. it's not for the dead, but also for our ourselves. -- for ourselves. >> but the extent to which during this time wen's writing about his childhood, the extent to which characters, the people in the village and the characters in the family feel that their lives are not in their control. so whether the fates, you know, whether it's the ancestors from the past who are controlling what happened -- [audio difficulty] of consistency about not being able to control your own destiny, and then your fate is in the hands of other people. when you went to the u.k., you
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talk about how difficult that was and how kind of alarming it was. and all of a sudden there's all this opportunity and choice available to you. >> correct. >> so how difficult was that for a 20 -- were you 20 at the time? >> 20, yes. >> to make that transition? >> when i was 20 year old, china opened up because after mao died and china started to open up to the outside world -- because it was a very, how do i say it, very hard thing for us to suddenly you grow up in china in this isolated world and suddenly enter the u.k. which is wholly different from what you have imagined. for years and years when we were growing up, our per tsengs of the west -- perceptions of the west -- especially the united states and england -- went through two stages. the first thing i remember was a bulletin board in my dad's factory, there was all these black and white pictures. we thought it was present
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pictures. i remember there was one picture about the streets lining up on the new york, in new york street people back, they were waiting for the food because they were unemployed. and another one, it was this capitalist dumping all this milk into the river to keep the price, but he wouldn't feed ordinary people. and then when we were growing up, i talked to some people many times that my mom would always say that when you have a penny, break it in half. you spend a half and save the other half for the poor people in america. [laughter] so i guess -- so that's what, and my first story, english story was i can memorize the whole story. it's called "john smith and his wife, mary, they work for the coal mine." but in the winter it's very cold, but they didn't have enough money to buy coal. so john is, there is a son. his son asks, daddy, why don't
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we have money to buy coal? he says because we produce too much coal, and the capitalists have us out of a job. still a lot of the stories were written about the great depression. that's how we saw, you poor people in america were starving, and we have to go and save it. there were stories about how american delegation came to china, and then they -- we fed you very, fed the americans some beautiful peking duck. and then the mesh guests were so grateful -- american guests were so grateful, they gave us dark bread. dark bread in china, you don't -- you know, very poor people's food. and then the waiter thanks the american guests, and then he turned around the dumped the bread in the garbage can to show how wonderful it was to live in a socialist country. and then suddenly when china opened up to the outside world and we saw these great hollywood movies, i remember the first movie, it was "godfather." [laughter]
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you know, it's mafia society, but then there was also the glamour to it. and then so it was, we've gone through two extremes. and then i went to the u.k. it was just, i finally realized, wow, there was so much green stuff in there, and people are really very decadent. and then i went to the morrisons, the big supermarket, and then my host family, they told me, they said, oh, these are the biscuits you can go through and you can buy be. i said -- i counted at least 30 different count of cookies. and i said, wow, those poor people, we have so many cookies n. china we have almond cookies, and i couldn't even get it all the time. [laughter] so that was an experience. another experience was complete cultural shock.
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but another thing that struck me, when we were growing up, we always thought all western families were very loose, not like the chinese were close-knit family. so when the children grow up, no matter how far away you go, you always come back. it's a big family. we were told that american parents are very ruthless. they just raise their kids to 18 years old, they kick them out. they come back and charge them represent. you know, that's what everybody -- you know, i remember my mother would be saying, oh, think about how hard they would have to beat you up thinking you have to look at the western family, they just kick you out. so this was the impression. even i think a lot of people now in china, they think that american families much more -- chinese are the model families, we're very close. and the way we express ourselves more, the parent makes all kind of sacrifices. even though we said i love you. i never heard my mother throughout her whole life say i love you. but they do love you through
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other ways. we just feel like so faithful americans, they say, oh, i love you so much, and when they're 18 years old, they kick them out. and when they come back, you know, we say that, oh, the participants of the children -- the parents of the children, they buy a house. they have to borrow money from the parents. so that's the impression i got. and when i was in the u.k., you suddenly realize i went to visit these families, there were these close-knit ties. the more i stayed there, all the propaganda things both in this country, americans i'm sure i've said the same thing about china, right? about not finishing of food and people are starving. and the longer i stayed, the longer you feel like there is the values are universal. and also in way i feel like maybe western participants, you have -- parents, you have more closer ties, and china sometimes with the family, with my dad and my grandmother, it's the ritualistic practice, the way
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you love your parents is not through -- you care about them, but you sacrifice for them. your participants, probably your dad, will be working in a different city, will never see you for 20 years. and then suddenly because he was earning money to support the family. that's the sacrifice, it's considered a kind of love. but it's just different, you know, the different perceptions of families. that, to me, is once i stayed a year in the u.k. and i started to get a more of a realistic picture than most people in china. but on the other hand, it's after many years of brainwashing. you always say, oh, this is a decadent, capitalist society, and our socialist system -- you try to justify what china couldn't accomplish. it's either the gap between the rich and the poor. i say, well, at least in china we didn't have a lot of beggars. once we become more and more
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open, china's just like the west, the gap in the rich and poor. even worse. and then it's acting more and more westernized. but in those years it was just the contradictions when you were taught in china, what you would see, and it's very eye-opening experience. >> let me take that opportunity then to talk about wen's next book. he's got a contract for a book that he's going to co-write about the current government in china and the difference there, the political scandals that are ongoing right now, and that's going to be coming out in the fall. >> in the fall. it's very punishing. >> so i have one last question, and it's about the humor in the book. and this book has so many parts that are laugh-out-loud funny, and they're written in a very, it's written in a very deadpan way. but the kind of observations that wen makes and the details
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that he brings to light are uproar crouse. so kind of a, did you -- i don't want to say was that intended because i know it was, but do you recognize why that's, um, that would be so funny to a westerner, some of these things? or as you were telling these stories, were you surprised that your friends were saying, wow, that's really funny, you've got to write that down? >> i think initially we didn't think it was funny. you know, it was happening in china, when i came over here we had a lot of friends, and i started to tell stories. and there was some ridiculous aspects of china. but when we were there, you felt it was part of your life. i'm sure people here grew up in china, but certain things that when you were there, you just never saw anything funny. even like my grand ma's coffin be. for years and years people said, well, did you ever think you have a disfunctional family, or your family, you're live
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anything a room with a big coffin in there. [laughter] i never thought, i thought my family was very normal. we just had a big piece of purposeture in there, and it covered up. [laughter] you just take it for granted until many years later. i depress -- i guess the way i could talk with some humor, after 20 years and then you are able to detach yourself and look at what the picture -- especially you are here for a long time -- enables me to go and stand back and then look at the whole, that period of life with a little bit of certain detachment. and you can make money of your, the family and also sometimes the sad things about my parents. and then i feel very much at home. i guess a lot of people if you talk about it with everybody will have certain dysfunctional aspects in our family. and, you know, our participants, about our grandparents and that we probably want to share with
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friends, or i guess i'm just now sharing with the whole america. that's what -- people, some of them ask me what's your dad think about it? i think he would be horrified because in the -- there's a chinese saying, it's called you never air your dirty laundry to the outside world. because my mom used to be like any, i'm sure like all mothers, she likes to gossip with the neighbors x there's something happens. the next thing you would know, she would say, don't tell anybody, and the next thing you know, a lot of people heard it. my dad used to call my mom the community radio. [laughter] and imagine, i said now my dad will call me the national public radio, don't you think? [laughter] but, anyway -- >> i'm going to interrupt there because i made this mistake, i always do which is when i'm listening to wendell stories or reading his book, i lose track of time, and i've done it again. we're going to wrap up now. wen, we've run out of time. sorry i didn't want leave time
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for questions, i'm a bad moderator. thanks so much for coming and sharing these stories with us, and it's a terrific book. >> thank you so much. [applause] thank you.
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yet unique, and even who was criticized as a successor that he successor who turned out not to be a great strong leader was in favor of a lot of this reform and a lot of the senior officials were in favor of the reforms. to some extent there was a very long time perspective and whether prisoner is the right word when you thought about hong kong he says for 50 years they can keep the system. if you asked obama what do you plan to do the next 50 years for this country that would already be a serious question. no american leader can be four years and as long term to the term of the next election so i
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think he did have a long-term perspective with the time he was experimental, and he didn't have the fixed notion. he used the expression crossed the river by groping for stones. that term has somehow been attributed but he didn't invent that term. he used the terms and the ideas and he was a manager who put altogether and provided the direction of the firm hand that made it happen.
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one of the things we like to dewitt booktv is hampshire you an upcoming book. joining us now the book publishing industry annual convention in new york city with author robert sullivan, whose new book coming out in september, 2012, is "my american revolution." mr. sullivan, what did you do to create this book? what was your thought behind it? >> i don't have many thoughts. but what i did was -- pretty much growing up in the states and hearing the notions about media george washington this did this year or that there.
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and i remember running a marathon here at one point. now i get where the hills are and the valleys are. i started to put those ideas together. the landscape and the history of new york. can they be put together. the revolution in new york and new jersey and the trustee area. >> the revolution across the weather map. >> growing up you will hear about these things, all this stuff we hear a lot about virginia and virginians.
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[inaudible] a kind of want to start a battle and say yeah, but washington and new york city the british control pretty much full war. then it comes why can't they hear it and what does this matter. well, what does it matter and what do they have to say. >> looking for history. >> one of the things you did hear -- there's a picture of you on the cover with a rowboat. uae escaped from manhattan. well was that actually about? >> quasi-state attempted to escapes.
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it's a long story, so i apologize. but basically, i took a lot about the weather and how it affected the various battles and the providence. but then i went back and i looked at the evacuation of the trips to manhattan after the first battle in from new york him. it's the very first battle they get dropped which is just bad, really, really bad and so will they say get out of here and they run down from the water and they're sitting their waiting and overnight under falcon and everything they got everything they can and they evacuate. kind of the opposite --
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[inaudible] anyway, they evacuate with every book they can find. but ultimately, when i go back to this place and what they do today it's like the greek philosopher it's the same because it's changing. it is an example of how we proceed history. but anyway, i find out that it's pretty much a legal. several states -- for me to get the quote and evacuate. which is, you know, i figured out a way to do it. actually found some voters to the last 20 years or so in new
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york because there's a revolution happening. incidentally every year. we went out and re-enacted. >> robert sullivan, what did you learn? you can tie into the american revolution. >> well >> the idea of the revolution, the american revolution there is a thought that we heard back to the british, we have the right
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again that we once had as citizens and there is that kind of old idea of devolving then there's the idea of the almanac, the revolutionary almanac and all these things and keep them and read them and actually right after the war, the first mention that they make of george washington as the father of the country which is printed in pennsylvania. so, we're finding that washington is made the father said speak on this very landscape, new york, new jersey, connecticut is the landscape in many ways. the first place he named washingtonism upper manhattan. and it happens shortly after the
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world begins. but anyway, the thing that i have really been struggling with is the concentration in no way necessary. you can look into the season, and not see the path to go down and look at the ties of the states and how it relates to now. >> when you look at george washington's lookout point. >> we recreated a point that washington used during the war. [inaudible] >> it's the same point during the cold war and it's that very
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same site and all the other things in between that i don't know about. if i go there today to love those places around the city i will find memorial's from 9/11 because the people in the town mayor of the city went to the same sites to see just as washington's troops might have been doing. it's a natural viewpoint to think about. specter is a lot of visitors here to new york city. there is one place that he would recommend the viewers are interested. >> the to the statue of liberty, and to move for the spot in the landscape over s.i., the high point between maine and georgia
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you look up that hill and block out all of the modern conveniences and you see what the general nathanael greene saw with the british fleet landing of the cut down trees. >> i have a question i wanted to ask you about the ships here in new york. >> is a fascinating story. more people died on the prison ships than died in the war in the battles of the war. after the battle of the british, everybody they captured it put them on several old ships that were in between the brooklyn bridge and the manhattan bridge and the williamsburg bridge and now the east river.
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they sat there and they kept putting more people on and they were not just continental soldiers, but they were slaves that ran and it didn't turn to the british. they were spanish sailors, dutch sailors, all kinds of people on the ships, and people in frankly the poor communities came to see them from the shore they did get the vote somehow. they also collect. you can't treat our prisoners like this, and he is insistent that we treat our prisoners fairly and in the letters that i have read any way. so, these alter the war and for a long time after, walt whitman works hard to setup a memorial and they are